Friday, August 31, 2012

A Study of Math Curricula in the United States

Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., has been providing research and data collection to guide public policies. One of its ongoing efforts is to evaluate Mathematics curricula in the early grades. In the United States, there are several curricula and in this specific study, Mathematica chose to examine four: (1) Investigations in Number, Data and Space, (2) Math Expressions, (3) Saxon Math, and (4) Scott Foresman - Addison Wesley Mathematics. A summary describing each of these curricula can be obtained from this link:

The following are links to the websites of these four curricula:

(2) Math Expressions

Results of the study have been released to the public. These are described in the following link: and the formal report which include the data and analysis can be read in

There are statistically significant differences between the curricula and the findings favor "Math Expressions". I would like to highlight the following description of "Math Expressions" taken from the abstract obtained from (the bold emphasis is mine):

Key aspects of this curriculum include application of accessible algorithms that can be more easily understood and used by students; use of student math drawings and research-based visual representations to support student understanding and class discussion of mathematical thinking; an emphasis on in-depth sustained learning of core grade-level concepts (rather than a spiral curriculum) to support students’ conceptual understanding and fluency; and a “learn by teaching” design to support teachers new to the curriculum.
Contrast the above study with DepEd's Secretary Luistro's view:

"Mapapagbuti na natin ang kaalaman ng mga mag-aaral sa Agham at Matematika sa pagsusulong ng spiral approach sa ating bagong curriculum," the DepEd chief said. (With the spiral approach in the new curriculum, we will improve learning in math and science)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Letter to Principals


Dear Sir/Madam:

Warm Greetings!

On September 3, 2012, Monday, the budget for Basic Education will be presented for deliberation at the House of Representatives. This is an important event for all of us.

We are united in the education sector that there should be a significant increase in the budget for education. This increase should fill up the shortages in teachers, school buildings, classrooms, sanitation facilities, books, chairs and other needed school facilities. This should also correspondingly lead to additional MOOE, living allowances and to the upgrading of our salaries. ACT believes that these are essential factors for quality education to be realized in our country.

That is why on September 3, 2012, Monday, ACT is requesting and encouraging you and your teachers and personnel to join in our “Bell Ringing Moment” for 15 minutes (12:00 to 12:15 noon time). This shall be our main form of campaign that will eventually unite us as we struggle for our demands. This unity will be a major key to our success.

Thank you very much and more power to you!

Sincerely yours,


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

School-Bell Ringing Day

Statistics on Philippines Demographics and Economic Indicators

The following is a repost (with permission) of an article written by BongV in The data included in this article are important, and it is the main reason for sharing this article in this blog.

Population Growth, Birth Rate, Death Rate, Life Expectancy of Filipinos and the RH Bill

Has much has changed with the trends related to population and poverty in the Philippines? What do the numbers tell us? This post has been updated with graphs and new data from the World Bank, updated July 13, 2012.
Comparison of the following countries Demographics and Economic KPIs – Philippines, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, North Korea, Indonesia, Hong Kong was done. The KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) plotted on a line graph are:
Demographic KPIs
* Population
* Population size
* Population density
* Birth rate
* Death rate
* Fertility rate
* Life expectancy at birth
Economic KPIs
* GDP per capita
* Ease of doing doing business index
* Corporate tax rate
* Steps to register a business
* Strength of legal rights index
The graphs show the following:
  1. There are countries with higher population, higher population growth rate, higher population density – and still RICHER (have higher GDP per capita) than PHL.
  2. There are countries with lower population, lower population growth rate, lower population density – and still POORER (have lower GDP per capita) than PHL.
  3. Countries with favorable business environments (less regulations, less taxes, easier to do business) have higher GDP per capita than PHL.
Poverty reduction therefore will need to focus on the business/economic environment and not useless dole-outs to contraceptives suppliers – and the vote mill of the trapos.
By the way I came across the notes of Dr. Romulo Virola, head of the National Statistical Coordinating Board (NSCB). Here’s what he wrote:
“Consistent with declining population growth rates, FIES data show that the population of larger families is on the downtrend. Between 2000 and 2003 the number of families with sizes 1 to 3 and 4 to 6 increased annually by 10% and 3.5%, respectively while that of families with sizes 7 to 10 and more than 10 decreased by 2.7% and 5.5%, respectively.(Table 2)”
“Not surprisingly, the mean ideal number of children is also largest for women with the least education: from 4.6 for women with no education to 2.8 for women with at least college education. ”
“But come to think of it, is overpopulation really bad when China and India are the envy of everybody these days? Is it not in fact partly because of their huge population of conspicuous consumers that investments are pouring in?”
- Dr. Romulo Virola, NSCB Head
So why are the pro-RH using the numbers of 8 or 9 children per poor woman – when the numbers are in the 5 per family as of 2003 Cool – and I will bet it has gone even lower in 2011? Laughing
The pro-RH are quick to cite cherry picking when in fact – their use of statistical outliers, to justify raising taxes for everyone, and present this as if this were the norm – is not the just the height of cherry picking, it is severely flawed and highly misrepresenting the data – a complete FRAUD!
Feb 17,  2011
The purpose of the RH Bill according to the Explanatory Note, is that population of the Philippines makes it “the 12th most populous nation in the world today”, that the Filipino women’s fertility rate is “at the upper bracket of 206 countries.” It states that studies and surveys “show that the Filipinos are responsive to having smaller-sized families through free choice of family planning methods.” It also refers to studies which “show that rapid population growth exacerbates poverty while poverty spawns rapid population growth.” And so it aims for improved quality of life through a “consistent and coherent national population policy.””
What are the facts?
Note that Philippines population growth rate decreased form 3% in 1960 to 1.8% in 2009
Conclusion: that’s a DOWNWARD trend in population growth rate from 1960 to 2009
Birth rates have shown a DOWNWARD trend from 26.3 in 2003 down to 25.68 in 2010. For the same period, our rank has moved from 75 to 58 – higher rank means higher birth rates lower rank means lower birth rates.
Conclusion: Philippines Birth rate has DECREASED from higher birth rate to lower birth rate, from higher rank to lower rank, globally.
Death rates have shown a DOWNWARD trend. In 2003, the Philippines Death Rate was 5.6. It went down to 5.06 by 2010
The Philippines fertility rate went from 7% in 1960 to 3.1% in 2008 – that’s a DOWNWARD slope.
Definition: This entry contains the average number of years to be lived by a group of people born in the same year, if mortality at each age remains constant in the future. The entry includes total population as well as the male and female components. Life expectancy at birth is also a measure of overall quality of life in a country and summarizes the mortality at all ages. It can also be thought of as indicating the potential return on investment in human capital and is necessary for the calculation of various actuarial measures.
In 2003, the Pinoy life expectancy at birth was 69.29 – by 2010 – the PInoy’s life expectancy at birth is 71.38. Filipinos are living longer lives!
As of 2010, The world’s most populous nations are:
#1 – China
#2 – India
#3 – United States
#4 – Indonesia
#5 – Brazil
#6 – Pakistan
#7 – Nigeria
#8 – Bangladesh
#9 – Russia
#10 – Japan
#11 – Mexico
#12 – Philippines
If one were to buy the higher population equals higher poverty argument – by now the top #5 most populous countries will be dirt poor – worse than the Philippines. Japan which is also an archipelago, like the Philippines, has more people than the Philippines – should be poorer than the Philippines.
However if one were to look at the economic policies of all these nations – the thriving ones have robust market-driven economies. Philippines, Nigeria, Bangladesh – have a lot in common – they have huge populations, have protectionist economies – and are poor.

Based on the above we can state the following:
1. Population growth rate decreased from 3.0% to 1.8%, for the period from 1960 to 2009.
2. Birth rate decreased from 26.3% to 25.68%, for the period from 2003 to 2010.
3. Death rate went down from 5.6% to 5.06%, for the period from 2003 to 2010.
4. Fertility rate went down from 7% to 3.1%, for the period from 1960 to 2008.
5. Life Expectancy at Birth increased for the period from 2003 to 2010.
6. Populous countries that have liberal economic policies don’t have widespread poverty like populous countries that have protectionist economic policies.
The data shows that the population KPIs are consistently trending down – and not going up as previously claimed. All these happened via fund realignment and without increased funding for health.
Poverty in the Philippines cannot be attributed to upward population pressure given the downward trends shown by empirical population data.
The justification for increased funding of procurement and distribution by the DOH is not supported by the empirical evidence.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Neil Armstrong Commencement Speech on Learning

Neil Armstrong, the first man to set his foot on the moon, died on August 25, 2012. He will always be remembered with the words, "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind". But Armstrong had other words that are worth remembering. His ideas about education likewise demonstrate his modesty and clear understanding of what learning really is. Here are excerpts of a commencement speech he delivered at the University of Southern California in 2005. I have emphasized some phrases.
"...A few words to the new graduates: for each of  you, this is a very special day, a day for which  you have labored for seemingly unending eons. You will be the proud possessor of a diploma.  It will affirm that you have demonstrated the ability to learn. You have learned the importance of fact and opinion, but, more importantly, you have learned the difference between them. I would hope that you have come to appreciate the elegance of simplicity. A simple explanation is often the best, but even more often the most difficult to recognize. 
I hope you have become comfortable with the use of logic, without being deceived into concluding that logic will inevitably lead to the correct conclusion.   
In essence, you have embraced thinking. Robert Frost famously remarked: “Thinking isn’t to agree or disagree, that’s voting”. Thinking and a willingness to learn have brought you to this day.   
Students of my vintage did not have calculators, cell phones, credit cards, personal computers, Internet or reality TV. Some might say they were very fortunate. At the time of my college graduation, airliners were propelled by propellers. A few military jets existed, and rocket engines were primitive. Had a faculty member at that time suggested preparation for a career in spacecraft operations, he or she would have been ridiculed. The most serious proposals for space flight were found on a Sunday evening television program, “The Wonderful World of Disney.” But within just three years, the Soviet Union launched the first Earth satellite and the space age was born. Within a decade, satellites were being used for a variety of scientific and commercial purposes. Probes had been sent to nearby planets and humans were frequently flying into space. That suggests that you can’t imagine the change and related opportunity that will arise for you in the years ahead. Hopefully, the things you have learned here will help you be ready for them. And you will not stop learning - learning is a lifelong process - and you have a great start. 
Custom dictates that a commencement speaker give a word of advice to the new graduates. And I feel a sense of discomfort in that responsibility as it requires more confidence than I possess to assume that my personal convictions merit your attention. The single observation I would offer for your consideration is that some things are beyond your control. You can lose your health to illness or accident. You can lose your wealth to all manner of unpredictable sources. What are not easily stolen from you without your cooperation are your principles and your values. They are your most important possessions and, if carefully selected and nurtured, will well serve you and your fellow man. Society’s future will depend on a continuous improvement program for the human character. And what will that future bring? I do not know, but it will be exciting.
The author of “The Little Prince,” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, was a pilot in World War II, which, unfortunately, he did not survive. Fortunately, his writings did survive, and I will pass along one piece of his advice. In Saint-Exupéry’s “Wisdom of the Sands,” he wrote: “As for the future, your task is not to foresee it, but to enable it.” And so it is. Congratulations and good luck."

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Slogans on Honesty while Child Labor and School Dropouts Continue ....

The House of Representatives in the Philippines is extremely busy. And it has nothing to do with the new curriculum that DepEd has initiated. The House Committee on Basic Education and Culture has recently passed a resolution requiring DepEd to post the slogan "Honesty is the best policy" in all public schools. Philippine Star posted a link to the news item on its facebook and there was one comment on it:

House body orders DepEd to post honesty slogans - Home » Other Sections » Breaking News

With a House committee passing a resolution on Thursday, the Education Department is mandated to implement the posting of signages in all public schools
and DepEd offices which read "Honesty is the best policy."
Comment: I hope an order be issued to remove all tarpaulens of politicians that are sprouting almost all corners!
On the Philippine Star website, there were even comments suggesting that the slogans should be placed in all offices of congressmen and senators. Honestly, are there not other things more substantial than this resolution on slogans?

Here are some data to refresh our memory. These are further described in detail in a previous article, "Who Here Wants to Be a Teacher?":

"Preliminary results of the 2011 Survey on Children in the Philippines revealed that of the 29 million Filipino children, aged 5-17 years old, there were roughly about 5.5 million working children, of which almost 3 million were in hazardous child labour. The National Statistics Office conducted the survey with the support of the International Labour Organization and the US Department of Labor." -International Labour Organization 
Here is another set of data:

New Data on Out-of-School Children - UNESCO

New Data on Out-of-School Children
Released by the UIS and the EFA Global Monitoring Report
Unesco - Institute for statistics
12 June 2012
Data to Make a Difference
According to new UIS data, an estimated 61 million children of primary school age are being denied their right to education. While the global out-of-school figure has declined over the past 15 years, falling from 102 million in 1990, the new data show that progress began to slow down in 2005 and has stagnated between 2008 and 2010 (at 61 million based on revised UN population estimates).At the same time, in sub-Saharan Africa, the number of out-of-school children of primary school age climbed from 29 million in 2008 to 31 million in 2010. Although enrolment in the region has risen, it has not kept pace with rapid population growth.
To learn more, consult the following resources:-         UNESCO eAtlas of Out-of-School Children allows users to map and share the data;-         Fact sheet and interactive graphics presenting the new data;
-         EFA blog post urging leaders to put out-of-school children on the Rio+20 agenda.

Schools are about to open in the United States. Parents who have a child five or six years of age will receive a phone call from the school board if the child does not show up in a school. This is what compulsory education means in the US. Teachers pay attention to their students. If a child has a visible bruise or injury, the parents are called to explain. Any hint of abuse gets reported. On the other hand, in the Philippines, teachers are probably going to be busy posting those signs that say "Honesty is the best policy".

Friday, August 24, 2012

"Inclusive Education that Promotes Diversity in Schools and Classrooms"

Pasi Sahlberg wrote:
The school network is based on the idea of inclusive education that promotes diversity in schools and classrooms. Steering of teaching and learning has never been based on written standards, but rather upon guidelines encouraging creative solutions within increasingly diverse social and human environments.
To bring the above to a concrete situation, I am sharing here a short video of Davao Today made by Mick Basa, John Rizle Saligumba, and Lorie Ann Cascaro:

The video above is accompanied by an article:

School brings hope to Ata Manobo children

These lumad children long for knowledge.  Not even their parents can stop them from going to school, even if it means they have to contend with their empty stomachs.
Davao Today
TALAINGOD, Davao del Norte, Philippines — 15-year-old Asenad Bago, an Ata-Manobo, has made his school his home.

This is because Asenad’s sub-village (sitio) is three hours away by foot from the Salugpungan Ta ‘Tanu Igkanugon (Unity in Defense of Ancestral Land) Community Learning Center, located in Sitio Dulyan, Palma Gil Village.  He asked his teachers that he could stay with the school staff.  In return to their kindness, he wakes up early “to clean around the school grounds and do other errands for the teachers.”

For the Ata Manobo youth and children like Asenad, the school has been a great help for them in learning basic literacy.  Without such school, youths like him would have to travel greater distance to public schools in town proper.

Another reason why Asenad prefers this school is that “the teachers provide me with what I need for school like my bag, notebooks and pencil and most especially, food.”
This Salugpungan Community Learning Center is running for nine years and taught 558 Ata Manobo students.

The school started nine years ago in 2003, as a non-formal school of the religious organization Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) in Southern Mindanao.

The tribal leaders of Salugpungan thought that education is key for the future generation, especially in learning how to defend their culture and their land against the encroachment of mining and other industries.

Their hopes were supported by the RMP especially through the efforts of the slain Italian missionary Father Fausto ‘Pops’ Tentorio, PIME (Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions), who was then the chair of the RMP Board of Directors.

Fr. Tentorio, who runs literacy programs in North Cotabato province, extended support to Talaingod.

Later in 2007, the Salugpungan Council and RMP established a primary school.  Now there are 10 Ata-Manobo schools.  Fr. Tentorio had supported the schools through donations and financial support from his friends in Italy.

Now, the Salugpungan Community Learning Center has become a full-fledged elementary school, offering primary education — for free — up to Grade Six.

But, the religious and the lumads’ initiative to gain access to basic education had been undermined with lack of government support.

Even if the Salugpungan school offers free education, the Department of Education (DepEd) has continuously denied its accreditation.

“That’s because we were not able to meet all the department’s requisites; requirements which we think are not practical for a school situated in the mountains,” laments Ronnie Garcia, the school’s first teacher.

He added, they were only given a permit to operate which they have to renew every year.
Garcia, a Mansaka lumad from Mabini, Compostela Valley province, was an RMP scholar himself who took up education course in college.  After his graduation, he volunteered to teach the Ata-Manobos here in Talaingod.

He shared that this year has been more difficult for the school as DepEd required them to submit electrical, building and Bureau of Fire Protection permits, among others.

Garcia also noted that they have modified the school’s curriculum so that it will fit the community’s needs, especially on their culture and tradition.  He added, the school has yet to discuss how to effectively implement DepEd’s new program, the K to 12.

As a teacher and a student once, Garcia said that requiring them to comply with the numerous requirements is tantamount to denying the indigenous peoples’ right to education, an added burden in the midst of their suffering from severe poverty.

Bago himself has witnessed how some of his classmates come to school with an empty stomach.

“Because of hunger, some of them cannot concentrate on the day’s lesson and many just fall asleep,” he said.

Students here bring with them root crops and yams, whenever it’s possible.  They also look for food very early in the morning, which most of the time, stretches until school time.  “That’s why some of them come to school late,” Bago said.

These lumad children long for knowledge.  Not even their parents can stop them from going to school, even if it means they have to contend with their empty stomachs.

“I’m really happy because since he goes to school, he has learned how to speak Bisaya, and to read and count,” said Bago’s father, Dolfo.

But for Bago, he hungers for more knowledge, not only for him but for his fellow lumad children, as well.

“I hope a Salugpungan High School will be established.  We want to reach high school, also, and eventually graduate” Bago said with full of hope.  (John Rizle L. Saligumba/

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Character Education : Why It Fails

It is one of the subjects in basic education. "Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao" is one of the core academic areas of DepEd's K to 12. Unlike science, this subject begins in kindergarten. And unlike the math and the sciences, there are no international standardized exams that can be used to assess how much students are really learning from a subject that aims to teach values. But like math and science, the current status of society can appropriately serve as a gauge. The present predicament of science and technology in the country can point out that basic education is failing without looking at the results of international tests on math and science. The current situations and issues in Philippine society can truly provide an assessment on whether character education is achieving its goals. Ina Alleco R. Silverio writes an insightful article on this topic. Orginially published in, I would like to share her article to the readers of this blog.

Losing childhood’s lessons



As children, we are allowed to watch tv programs where the good guys always triumph and the villains get their comeuppance — the naughty little boy who stole cookies and then lied about it afterwards gets caught by a good little boy who always tells the truth (never mind that he’s sometimes labelled a stoolie and a tattle-tale– he has to stand up for what is right). Bullies are punished and the nerdy or geeky ones are embraced and told that they are loved no matter what.
Then when we reach adolescence and attend high school, we’re prodded to have extra-curricular activities: join the Boy Scouts/Girl scouts, the English, Science or Math Club, the gymnastics group, the chess team, whatever organization that will supposedly bring one out of one’s shell and teach one how to socialize, how to make friends, how to grow up to be a stable, decent and well-rounded individual who will also be a good model citizen.
So what will all these lessons on how to be a good person, or why it is important to make friends and be upright individuals, shouldn’t it be expected that things would be much better for all of us? Because it’s not just the children’s tv programs or the books, it’s also school: up to high school and even college we are constantly bombarded with reminders that we should be upstanding young people. What happened?
What happens is this: society and our elders and leaders go against their own words and practice the opposite of what they preach to the younger ones. The truths they proclaim are exposed as empty rhetoric, and they fall desperately short of our expectations. They establish rules and laws that allow the weak to be exploited further and the bullies to be rewarded. Liars are given high posts in government and when they steal, they also get away with it. Truth-tellers are vilified, abducted, killed, or worse, their honor and dignity undermined and they they are accused of being criminals by the killers, thieves and liars.
As adults, we find work in the offices and the factories, but by no means is our socializing with our colleagues and co-workers allowed to become strong bonds of fraternity: we are discouraged from forming or joining unions or employee associations. When we seek to give depth and significance to the ties we form in the workplace — in the factories where we are victimized by the same unfair labor policies and the oppressive work conditions; in the government offices where we are witness to the corruption of our superiors — we risk losing our jobs and become targets of the management or the higher authorities in government. The groups we form with our friends — the unions, the associations — are banned, and when we assert our rights by speaking out in protest by holding pickets and strikes (all of which are inalienable rights), we are charged of the most ridiculous crimes like disturbing the peace, loitering and littering.
As children we are told to speak out against the wrong doings of others, to admit our own faults and apologize.
As adults, many of us would rather keep silent,and then there are others whose main duty is to silence others.
Those who keep silent live in fear and ignorance; but they will not admit it, or worse, they do not care. They remain quiet as they watch society deteriorate. Society’s leaders, in the meantime, have no shame and remain stiff-necked and defiant against public outrage against the atrocities of various stripes and colors they committed in the name of public service, while in public office. They rely on the silence of the majority to remain in power, on their fear, their ignorance, their apathy.
They do not know what it means to apologize, or if they do, the apology is false and everything is for show. They escape punishment, and the judgment of history against them means nothing because they retain the immoral and stolen wealth they accumulated – money makes all the difference and can buy influence.
Many children group to become fence sitters; others grow up to become hecklers who also sit on the fence but make it their past time to ridicule those who choose to practice what they learned as children and strengthen their values and belief in what is right and just into adulthood.
The children who grew up to adulthood with the core values intact have no need for religion or faith not because they are godless, but because they are not out to save only themselves (often religion teaches that one must pray because its a requirement to go to heaven: the unforgetting ones believe in creating heaven on earth for the poor and the oppressed). They remember childhood’s lessons on how help must be extended to others in need; that they must give what they have in excess and always share with the less fortunate.
They work for others in the same way they live for and love their families, and a sacrifice is no longer a sacrifice because it is often done out of love. The pledge they took as children to love their country, to serve it and their fellowmen/women they continue to take seriously, and many have already given their lives to the cause of daylight in a country where darkness is prevalent.
(This is dedicated to the young men and women of the League of Filipino Students.) (

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Teaching Literature in Elementary Schools in the Philippines

The following is a lecture given by Genaro R. Gojo Cruz on how to introduce literature to grade school children. It highlights the importance of culture, basically emphasizing that the mother tongue is much more than just using the language at home. More importantly, to arouse interest among the students, Cruz provides several useful suggestions. 

Ilang mga Metodo Ko sa Pagtuturo ng Panitikan sa Elementarya 
ni Genaro R. Gojo Cruz

Aaminin kong may pagkiling ako sa panitikang pambatang isinulat ng mga manunulat na Pilipino para sa mga batang Pilipino. Naniniwala kasi akong binibitbit ng mga panitikang pambata, partikular ng mga kuwentong pambata ang kultura o sensibilidad ng mga batang Pilipino. Ibang-iba ang karanasan ng mga batang Pilipino sa ibang batang di nakatira sa Pilipinas. Naniniwala akong mabisang instrumento ang panitikang pambata na ilapit ang mga batang Pilipino sa kanyang kultura. At buo rin ang aking paniniwala na mabisang instrumento ang guro upang ilapit ang mga bata sa kanilang panitikan. Ang guro ang talagang pinakamalapit o pinakamadalas humawak ng panitikan. 

Ang tinutukoy ko ay di ang mga kuwentong mababasa sa inyong mga teksbuk dahil ang mga ito ay di maituturing na mga kuwentong pambata. Ang tinutukoy ko rito ay ang mga kuwentong nailathala bilang mga aklat-pambata, halimbawa, ang mga aklat-pambata na inilalathala ng Adarna House, Lampara Books, Tahanan Books, Gintong Salakot, Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang ng Anvil, CANVAS at iba pa. 

Marami kasi sa mga kuwentong nasa teksbuk ay di isinulat ng talagang mga manunulat, kung kaya halatang-halata ang kakulangan ng mga ito sa kasiningan. Halatang-halata na pilit na isiningit ang mga aralin sa wika. Halimbawa, kung ang aralin ay tungkol sa pangngalan o pandiwa, asahang mamumutiktik sa pangngalan o pandiwa ang kuwento. Pilit na pilit ang mga kuwento. Kung kaya madalas, nilalayuan ng mga bata ang panitikan o ang pagbabasa sa kabuuan. Paano nga ba naman nila magugustuhan at matutuklasan ang hiwaga ng panitikan kung “pilit” at “palpak” ang mga kuwentong nababasa nila sa kanilang teksbuk. 

Kung kulang sa de-kalidad ng panitikan ang mga teksbuk, ang ilang guro naman, ang mismong mga mag-aaral ang pinaghahanap. Gumawa ng album ng dalawampung tula, dalawampung alamat, dalawampung kuwentong-bayan, dalawampung pabula at iba pa. Nalintikan na! Paano nga ba naman magugustuhan ng mga mag-aaral ang panitikan na sa una’y dapat munang makapag-entertain sa kanila? Itinuturing kong pinakamasamang magagawa ng guro ang bisyong ito ng pagpapa-album. 

Kaya nga sa aking pagtuturo noon sa elementarya, nawalan ng silbi ang teksbuk sa aking pagtuturo ng panitikan. Nagsimula akong bumili at mag-ipon ng mga babasahin, aklat pambata na magagamit ko sa aking pagtuturo. Linggu-linggo’y bumibili ako noon ng Liwayway, Pambata Magasin o ng mga pahayagan tulad ng Philippine Daily Inquirer na may kasamang Junior Inquirer Magazine na may mga kuwento at tulang isinulat mismo ng mga batang Pilipino. Naging mabisang katuwang ko sa pagtuturo ng panitikan sa elementarya ang mga ito. Nakatutuwa ring isipin na higit na nakakaugnay ang aking mga mag-aaral sa kanilang mga binabasa, dahil ang ilan sa mga ito ay isinulat din ng mga batang tulad nila. Binabasa nila ang kanilang mismong panitikan.

Samakatuwid, kailangang maging sensitibo ang guro sa pagpili ng panitikang dapat basahin o ipabasa sa kanyang mga mag-aaral. Sa aking ding karanasan, higit na naging masaya at aktibo ang klase kapag magagandang panitikan ang aming pinag-uusapan. Higit na naging natural ang pagsagot at pagkatuto ng mga mag-aaral. Natutuhan nila ang wika sa pamamagitan ng paggamit ng mga ito. Iwasan na ang lagi’t laging pagpapabilog, pagkakahon, pagguhit, at iba pa sa mga salita. Ipagamit na ito mismo sa mga bata ang wika sa halip na ipakabisado. 

Narito ang ilan sa mga hakbang sa pagpili ng panitikan para sa mga mag-aaral:

1. Piliin ang mga kuwentong-pambatang isinulat ng mga manunulat na Pilipino sa mga batang Pilipino. Malaking tulong ito upang magkaroon ng interes ang mga bata sa kuwento dahil malapit sa kanilang karanasan ang kuwento. Maganda ring ipakilala sa mga bata ang manunulat na Pilipinong sumulat ng kuwento. 

2. Piliin ng mga kuwentong-pambata naaayon sa antas ng pag-iisip, kasanayan, interes, kultura o gawi ng pamumuhay, at pangangailangan ng mga mag-aaral. Kung problema ng guro ay ang kalinisan ng kanyang mga mag-aaral lalo na sa mga pampublikong paaralan, may mga kuwento ukol sa kalusugan na maaaring magamit. Mahilig naman sa mga kuwento na hayop ang bida ang mga mag-aaral sa Ika-1 hanggang Ika-2 baitang. 

3. Siguruhing naaayon sa layunin ng gagawing pagtuturo ang piniling kuwentong-pambata. Halimbawa, kung ang layunin sa pagtuturo ay makilala’t makapagbigay ng puna sa pangunahing tauhan, piliin ang mga kuwentong nagbibigay diin sa taglay na katangian ng pangunahing tauhan. Kung ang layunin naman ay maibigay ang banghay ng kuwentong nabasa o napakinggan, piliin ang mga kuwentong ukol sa kasaysayan na nagbibigay diin sa pagkakasunud-sunod ng mga pangyayari. Marami ng aklat-pambata sa Pilipinas at tiyak na di mauubusan ang guro.
4. Kung nais ng gurong ikuwento sa mga bata ang mga aklat-pambatang tumatalakay sa maseselang isyu, tulad halimbawa ng paghihiwalay ng mga magulang, mga sakit tulad ng AIDS, at iba pa, kailangang munang magbigay ang guro ng mga kaugnay na gawain bago simulan ang pagkukuwento o pagbabasa. Kailangan din ang maingat na pagpoproseso pagkatapos. Huwag na huwag iiwan sa ere ang kuwento lalong higit ang mga bata. 

Narito naman ang ilan sa mga hakbang na aking ginagamit sa pagtuturo ng panitikan sa elementary.

1. Bago ko gawin ang pagbabasa o pagpapabasa, nagsisimula akong lagi sa karanasan o sa kung ano ang alam ng mga mag-aaral (establishing prior knowledge). Bukod sa ito ang paraan ko ng paghahanda sa kanila, nabibigyan din sila ng pagkakataong mailahad nang natural ang kanilang mga karanasan. Sa ganitong paraan, nalalaman ng bata na may “gamit” o “silbi” pala ang kanyang alam sa loob ng klasrum. Ngunit kung walang karanasan ang bata kaugnay ng paksa ng kuwento, maaaring gumawa ang guro ng mga gawain na magbibigay sa kanila ng karanasan. Halimbawa, kung ang kuwento ay tungkol sa isang bulag, maaaring i-blind fold ang mga mag-aaral. Itanong kung ano ang kanilang nararamdaman. Patayuin sila. Palakarin nang bahagya. Itanong kung ano ang kanilang karanasan. Mahirap ba o madali ang maging bulag? Pagkaraan nito, gumawa ng tulay na mag-uugnay sa karanasang ito ng mga mag-aaral sa kuwentong babasahin o ipababasa. Kailangang maging malikhain ang guro sa pag-iisip ng mga gawaing dudukal sa dating kaalaman o karanasan ng mga mag-aaral. Huwag na huwag agad sisimulan ang pagbabasa o pagpapabasa ng kuwento. 

2. Bukod sa nabanggit sa unang bilang, ginagamit ko ring hakbang sa pagkuha ng dahil kaalaman ng mga mag-aaral ang Alam na, Nais Malaman, Nalaman o ang Know, What to know, Learned (KWL). Sa pamamagitan nito, natataya ng mag-aaral ang sarili ukol sa kanyang mga alam na, gustong malaman at pagkaraan na making o mabasa ang kuwento ang kanyang natutuhan o nalaman. Mabisang gamitin ito sa mga kuwentong tumatalakay sa kasayasayan at kalusugan. 

3. May mga kuwentong di malinaw kung ano o sino ang pangunahing tauhan, kung kaya ipaguguhit ko sa mga mag-aaral ang itsura ng pangunahing tauhan. Matapos kong mabasa ang ilang pangungusap o talata ng kuwento, hihinto na ko at itatanong ko sa mga mag-aaral kung ano o sino ang nagsasalita sa kuwento. Iguguhit nila sa isang papel ang naiisip nilang itsura ng pangunahing tauhan. Sa pamamagitan nito, nasusubok at nahahasa ang kanilang imahinasyon o malikhaing pag-iisip. Pagkatapos nito, ididikit ko sa pisara ang mga kanilang mga guhit at magpapatuloy na ako sa aking pagkukuwento. Pagkaraan, itatanong ko kung alin sa mga itsura ng mga tauhang nasa pisara ang pinakamalapit sa tauhan sa kuwentong aking binasa. Mabisa ito sa mga mag-aaral na nasa ika-1 hanggang ika-3 baitang. 

4. Kung ang mga mag-aaral ang mismong mababasa ng kuwento, madalas na sinasabi ko muna ang pamagat ng kuwentong kanilang babasahin. Magbibigay ako ng kaunting lektyur ukol sa may-akda ng kuwento at iba pang kaugnay paksa ng kuwento. Pagkaraan nito, ang mga mag-aaral mismo ang gagawa ng tanong na maaaring masagot ng kuwentong kanilang babasahin. Isusulat ko ang kanilang mga tanong sa pisara, lahat ay tinatanggap ko. Pagkaraan na makapagbigay ng tanong ang lahat ng mag-aaral, ipapakritik ko sa kanila ang mga tanong. Alin sa mga tanong ang pareho lamang? Alin ang maaaring pag-isahin na lamang? Sisikapin kong makapagtira ng sampung (10) mahuhusay na tanong. Ang mga tanong na ito ang sasagutin ng mag-aaral. Sa pamamagitan nito, natutuhan ng mga mag-aaral ang mabisang pagbabasa. Malinaw na sa kanila ang kanilang layunin sa pagbabasa dahil natukoy na ang tanong na kanilang sasagutin. Mahirap ang gawaing ito kung kaya nababagay ito sa ika-6 na baiting. Magagamit ito sa mga kuwentong loaded ng mga impormasyon o kaalaman. 

5. Madalas kong ginagamit ang istratehiyang Pinatnubayang Pagbasa at Pag-iisip o ang Directed Reading Thinking Activity (DRTA). Napatunayang kong patok ang paraang upang isangkot ang mag-aaral sa pakikinig at ilapit sila sa panitikan. Sa paraang ito, hinahati ko ang buong kuwento sa kapana-panabik na bahagi, at sa bawat bahagi ay nagbibigay ako ng mga tanong kaugnay na susunod na pangyayari. Nasusubukan nito ang husay ng mga mag-aaral sa matalinong paghihinuha. At dahil sa kanilang kasabikan na malaman ang susunod na pangyayari, sila ay nakikinig. Mabisa ito sa lahat ng baitang sa elementarya. 

6. Sa mga kuwentong may dalawa o higit pang tauhan, ginagamit ko ang habing ugnayan (relationship web). Malaking tulong ito upang makita nang biswal ng mga ang ugnayan ng mga tauhan sa kuwento. Madalas na inihahanda ko na ito. Bahala na ang mga mag-aaral na magpunan ng mga ito habang o pagkatapos makinig o magbasa. Binibigyang-diin ko sa gawaing ito na kailangan ng isang tao ang iba upang mabuhay. Kailangan niyang makipag-ugnayan sa iba upang mabuhay. Ang ganitong gawain ay nababagay sa Ika-5 hanggang ika-6 na baitang. 

7. Kung ang kuwento naman ay nagbibigay-diin sa taglay na katangian ng dalawang tauhan, ginagamit ko ang venn diagrams. Bukod sa madaling makita ang ugnayan ng dalawang tauhan, nakikita rin agad ang kanilang pagkakatulad at pagkakaiba. Dahil dito, madaling napagtitimba-timbang ng mga mag-aaral kung sino ang higit niyang gusto sa dalawang tauhan. 

8. Madalas ko ring gamitin ang pagbibigay regalo sa mga tauhan (gifts to characters). Bawat mag-aaral ay mag-iisip ng isang regalong gusto niyang ibigay sa isa sa mga tauhan sa kuwento. Ilalagay niya sa kahon ang kanyang gusting iregalo, ito ay maaaring tunay na bagay o hindi, basta ang pinakamahalaga ay ang munting card na nakakabit sa kahon. Nakasulat sa munting card ang dahilan kung bakit iyon ang kanyang iniregalo sa pangunahing tauhan. Maaaring magpalitan ng regalo ang mga mag-aaral. Sila rin ang magbubukas at magbabasa ng mga nakasaulat sa munting card. Sa ganitong paraan, natutukoy ng mga mag-aaral ang suliranin ng kuwento o ang pangangailangan ng pangunahing tauhan. Mabisa ang hakbang na ito sa lahat ng baitang sa elementarya.

9. Ginagamit ko rin sa pagtuturo ng panitikan sa elementarya, ang pagtatanong na nagsisimula sa “Ano kaya kung” o “What if”. Ano kaya kung ikaw ang pangunahing tauhin sa kuwento? Ano ang iyong gagawin? Ano kaya kung may lumang aparador sa loob ng inyong bahay na parang kuweba? Ano ang iyong gagawin? Mapapansing sa pagsagot ng mga mag-aaral sa mga tanong na ito, bukod sa naiiugnay na nila ang kuwento sa kanilang sariling karanasan, lumilikha na sila ng sarili nilang kuwento. Madalas na isinusulat ko sa kapirasong papel ang mga “Ano kaya kung” na mga tanong at ang bawat isa ay bubunot. Mabisa itong gamitin sa mga kuwento ukol sa kababalaghan.

10. Mapapansing ang mga ibigay kong paraan, istratehiya, o hakbang sa pagtuturo ng panitikan sa elementarya ay mahahati sa tatlong bahagi—bago bumasa, habang bumabasa, at pagkatapos bumasa. Mahalagang may nakalaang gawain ang guro sa bawat yugto. At siguruhing may ugnayan ang mga gawain bago bumasa, habang bumabasa at pagkatapos bumasa. Mahalaga ring iayon ang mga gawain sa kakayahan at antas ng pag-iisip ng mga mag-aaral. 

Walang iisang mabisang teknik sa pagtuturo ng panitikan sa elementarya. Kung minsan o madalas, di talagang nagtutugma ang iniisip o inaasahan na magiging resulta o daloy ng pagtuturo ng guro sa tunay na nangyayari sa loob ng klasrum. Madalas ding iba ang nangyayari sa klasrum sa nakasulat sa lesson plan ng guro. Kaya mabuting maging kargado ng iba’t ibang teknik ang guro sa pagtuturo ng panitikan sa elementarya. Kung nakukutuban niyang di magiging mabisa ang teknik na nakasaad sa banghay-aralin, at kung di rin naman nakamasid ang principal na madalas ay sarado sa ganitong mga pagbabago, agad siyang makakaisip ng iba. Mahalagang dapat isaalang-alang lagi ang kapakanan ng mga mag-aaral.

Sa mga guro, maipapayo kong magdokumento ng inyong mga sariling karanasan o teknik sa pagtuturo ng panitikan sa elementarya. Alam kong ilan o marami sa aking mga ibinahagi ay di na bago sa inyo, o matagal na ninyong ginagamit sa inyong pagtuturo. Ngunit sa aking palagay, lagi’t laging nagiging bago pa rin ang mga teknik na ito dahil taun-taon, iba-iba ang ating mga nagiging mag-aaral. Bagong-bago sa kanila ang karanasang maituro natin ang panitikan gamit ang mga estratehiyang ito. At higit sa lahat, mahalagang matutunan ng mga guro ang magbahaginan ng mga karanasan sa pagtuturo ng panitikan. Ang totoo naman kasi’y sa isa’t isa tayo talagang matuturo. Sa ating mga karanasan sa pagtuturo at di sa mga libro o sa mga ispiker na tulad ko, tayo talagang natututo.

Kaya sana, sa mga darating na panahon, ‘yung mga gurong nasa field talaga ang nabigyan ng pagkakataong maging ispiker sa mga ganitong seminar-worksyap. ‘Yung talagang nakalublob talaga ng ilang taon sa field. At kung mangyayari ito, ako ay talagang dadalo at unang-unang makikinig sa inyo. Dahil gustong-gusto ko ring matuto.

(Lektyur sa SANGFIL, Hulyo 9, 2009, UP NISMED)


Cruz leaves an important message at the end of his lecture that is worth reiterating. "Those teachers who are on the ground should be the ones given an opportunity to speak in this type of seminars or workshop. Those who are truly on the front line of teaching should be speaking here. And if this happens, I can assure that I would be among the first to attend and listen. Because I really would like to learn more."