As mentioned in the previous post I have been back from traveling – and I know it’s not supposed to be an excuse, but I have to admit I neglected this blog for a week! Eeps! Exactly a week ago I was eating brownies at the airport!
Anyway, the recent Philippine trip was short. Too short that I didn’t get to do everything I wanted to do, like hangout with family, do some volunteer work in Raya (previous school I worked at which is just a happy place, full stop), chill at hot springs and do some wakeboarding. Everything was rush rush. Lesson now is, book a longer trip, so that I can do everything!
I mentioned Raya School and it being a happy place. It is. It is a remarkable school in Naga City, offering a very modern take on educating children. It is a progressive school and as a fan of all things innovative and helpful – I really like it.
Now what is a progressive school? Buzzfeed helps us understand it in a hilarious way, but it’s true. The article implies that progressive education is a movement made by hippie parents teaching their children to rebel and love nature and be weird but it’s not entirely true. It’s a reaction towards the standard, mainstream, traditional education where the teacher is the authority and exams are the end all and be all of the child’s ability.
I love that idea where education is practical and not tests-based. Don’t get me wrong, as a kid I aced exams easily but I knew I wasn’t good enough, that my perfect scores don’t mean I’m perfect (I didn’t have any friends so maybe that’s why I thought I was far from perfect lol). One of the key moments in my early childhood education was when I got a perfect score in my science finals test in grade five (taxonomic classification – ha!) but I knew my teacher didn’t know what a blue green algae is. That’s the time when I started distrusting teachers, and school for that matter. Is it really worth it? What’s the point? I mean, my parents aren’t telling me that corals are animals and they belong in phylum coelenterata, you know?
Add to the fact that I was really poor in rote learning. I was one of those rare children who’d rather have essay tests because I can fully express my thoughts given a free rein of thinking. I was a confident speaker and one of my teachers said I didn’t give a fuck in my essays – and I think that gave me the confidence to speak my thoughts and my ideas as a person. I knew I passed scholarships because I can communicate well, like in instances when I’m a mayor of a city and the problem was overpopulation – this was my make or break question at the entrance interview for the Science High School – I answered arcologies because I played with Sim City 2000 then. Gaming helps, I tell you that. I owe Sim City my life, come to think of it.
Progressive schools are student-centered, creative and open. They teach children critical thinking skills, emphasize self-direction and teamwork but also collaboration and communication – not to mention using digital technology. As a teacher, I consider myself not an authority but a guide. I mean, I know I don’t know everything but I also know I know more than them because I have life experiences. My point is, I want to equip my children with life skills and the love for life-long learning. I know I sound like a brochure for your school but tell you what, if I have a child of my own, I can’t care less if she knows about Schrodinger’s cat at age 11 if all she wants is to make a perfect apple pie!
I can go on and on about how making a perfect apple pie is more advantageous in life skills and is cross-curricular across the board compared to learning about Schrodinger’s cat but I will spare you the torture. In order for you to understand it more, here is a table (Source: Robert G. Peters, with thanks to the books Schools of Quality, by John Jay Bonstigl, and In Search of Understanding, by Martin C. Brooks and Jaqueline Grennon, Independent Schools.)
|School is a preparation for life.||School is a part of life.|
|Learners are passive absorbers of information and authority.||Learners are active participants, problem solvers, and planners.|
|Teachers are sources of information and authority.||Teachers are facilitators, guides who foster thinking.|
|Parents are outsiders and uninvolved.||Parents are the primary teachers, goal setters, and planners, and serve as resources.|
|Community is separate from school, except for funding.||Community is an extension of the classroom.|
|Decision-making is centrally based and administratively delivered.||Decision-making is shared by all constituent groups.|
|Program is determined by external criteria, particularly test results.||Program is determined by mission, philosophy, and goals for graduates.|
|Learning is linear, with factual accumulation and skill mastery.||Learning is spiral, with depth and breadth as goals.|
|Knowledge is absorbed through lectures, worksheets, and texts.||Knowledge is constructed through play, direct experience, and social interaction.|
|Instruction is linear and largely based on correct answers.||Instruction is related to central questions and inquiry, often generated by the children.|
|Disciplines, particularly language and math, are separated.||Disciplines are integrated as children make connections.|
|Skills are taught discretely and are viewed as goals.||Skills are related to content and are viewed as tools.|
|Assessment is norm-referenced, external, and graded.||Assessment is benchmarked, has many forms, and is progress-oriented.|
|Success is competitively based, derived from recall and memory, and specific to a time/place.||Success is determined through application over time, through collaboration.|
|Products are the end point.||Products are subsumed by process considerations.|
|Intelligence is a measure of linguistic and logical/mathematical abilities.||Intelligence is recognized as varied, includes the arts, and is measured in real-life problem-solving.|
|School is a task to be endured.||School is a challenging and fun part of life.|
I suppose you can say it is the Montessori-style but geared for older children. Some people call it Holistic Learning. It is curiosity-driven, but I love to think that this will be the future of education. It does not stop at elementary, nor high school. When you instill the love for learning (or reading) in a person, you improve a society. They will be better, responsible and kind adults that will improve and enhance our world as we know it.