This morning meal, we talked about education in the Philippines and in other countries with topics such as alternative learning system, giving assignments and examinations, and play. Our current Department of Education Secretary Leonor Briones has in her agenda the alternative learning system. This is encouraging to some students in our country since not all students are geared towards formal education and not every high school graduates are suited to enter college.
Currently, if the cumulative grade of a student reaches 60, the student is given a passing grade of 75. It seems that this move of the previous secretary Br. Luistro Armin, a La Sallian Brother, is geared towards mass promotion of the students so they can graduate in high school.
Though I know it’s important to focus on our high school students (since our country is dominated by the millennial population with a median age of 23 years old), I hope that educators and lawmakers would consider the program we give to our children below 10 years old. Like in Finland and Japan, they tweaked their preschool and primary level with lots of play and exploration for kids and no assignments and examinations.
For parents, I hope that they wouldn’t spoil their kids by giving them smartphones and tablets at an early age so kids can enjoy their childhood outdoors and with their playmates.
How about you, what do you think about your country’s education?
It’s still raining. And here in Cotabato, I think this is the coolest day here since I arrived last May 15. Sometimes, I heard, when the rain is too strong and the swamp overflows, fishes can be seen in the grass field of the campus. I want to witness that one of these days. When I was still an aspirant, there was a city wide flooding just because people forgot to clear the water lilies in the river. Well, this city is below the sea level.
I don’t know if it’s because of the raining that our internet connection with PLDT is so slow. Alternative? I used mobile data with a Globe SIM which has an LTE signal here. If not for the intermittent connection, I wouldn’t blog again. The mobile data reminded me of WordPress. Force of habit probably. I always find time to be alone and reflect; I just forgot about WordPress.
And now that I remember, I should come here more often so that I can write about my stress as a homeroom adviser, my battle against lesson plans, encounter with cheeky teenagers, bright kids, table tennis prodigies, cute dogs, and everything that revolves around my life here in my first assignment as a temporarily professed brother.
As I write down my thoughts, feelings and experiences, may the Holy Spirit move me and transform these insipid and plain water-like experiences into intoxicating and zestful wine-like life events (John 2:1-12).
Well wishes and prayer messages disguised in a Facebook Number Game
I manage a Facebook group site for my Geometry class. Though the school year is finished, I posted some activity for them to comment. The post is a Number Game wherein friends would send a number privately to the one who posted then the one who posted would comment on the post, describing the friend, withhold the name, label that person with a number, and letting others guess who is that person being described. The Number Game is, in reality, for me to send them private messages about my well wishes and prayers for them as their teacher and “spiritual parent” (a term I got from Pope Francis). Right now, I ran out of ideas and quirks in writing since the game is still on and I have yet to write for more or less twenty students.
Letter writing activity in class
Last November, I gave the students a letter writing activity called Dear John. You might wonder what’s the connection of letter writing and mathematics? I’ll explain. They are to reply to a former classmate who transferred and talk about John’s struggle with Geometry in his new school. So aside from sharing their own experiences too and their advice to him, I posted other questions such as their preferred degrees in college, their plans for the future, and their aspirations in life. Upon receiving their letters, I replied to their letters and gave advices, recommendations, affirmations, and encouragements in their class performance and in their future endeavors as well. Considering that this activity requires me to reply to 52 students, I don’t mind the hurt in my hand in writing since I enjoy writing for them anyway.
The Number Game and the Dear John writing experience is heartwarming and enriching as a rookie teacher, a brother, and as a human being. I hope that the students felt the same when they receive a reply from this brother.