Bye Bye Science? A Mother’s Reaction.

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I don’t quite understand the whole concept behind the (Philippine) Department of Education’s decision to re-work the Basic Education Curriculum. There’s a lot to be said for and against the K to 12 curriculum, and as I’ve been away from home for some time now, I really can’t make assumptions that are rooted in present reality.

But I would like to zero in on the fact that part of the upcoming changes will include the removal of Science classes for the first and second graders. And I’d like to react to it: it’s pretty much, to put it lightly, senseless.

Here’s a quote from an article that came out on the Manila Bulletin, with the link below:

“Education Secretary Armin Luistro said that the move to exclude Science in Grade 1 subjects starting this coming school year is based on the design of K to 12 curriculum. ‘The overall design of the new curriculum to be introduced and implemented this coming June to both Grade 1 and First Year high school students is based on the idea that we should be taking the students where they are,’ Luistro said in an interview.”

I find what Luistro claims as the basis of the idea: “…we should be taking the students where they are” a challenge to interpret. Did he mean Filipino kids in the 1st and 2nd grade levels aren’t able to understand Science? And thus, in taking the class out and “decongesting” the schedule, they will be able to grasp more? A closer look at the subjects they chose to keep made me wonder as to what kind of values they upheld during the decision process.

Another thing I want to throw out there is this: Will they put money into improving Science classes for the higher grades? Back when I was in elementary school, Science stopped being interesting for me since we didn’t really get to do any experiments. Same thing in high school. For example, chemistry doesn’t make sense unless you get to actually spend time in the lab. And no, being shown what a bunsen burner looks like isn’t considered lab work! And we went to private schools! So with this coming change, is there assurance that the removal of Science classes in the earlier grades will lead to the improvement of Science classes in the older grades?

When my firstborn was in first grade, he loved learning about Science. He joined the Science Fair during the second grade, and on until fifth grade. We worked together on his projects. He clearly was challenged by what he had to do, and he had his little brother learning along with him.  Fact is, both my boys love Science. Apparently, they actually get to do cool stuff in the lab. And they spend time working on projects that help make the concepts real.  {To be clear, I’m not comparing countries. I’m simply highlighting the difference it makes when you actually do more than just memorize equations!}

Do a search on the advantages of studying Science and you’ll come up with more information than the fingers on both your hands. But the basic advantage, as I see it, is this: that in studying Science a child learns to approach life through inquiry, putting the principles of the scientific method into play. The child’s mind learns to ask questions, to test and to analyze according to resulting facts. Think of where this could lead your child in the future.

It could start off simply. They learn the difference between a living and non-living thing. They classify samples as plants or animals. They play with more samples and learn what’s solid, liquid and gas. Simple starting points. But they fire up a thirst for more that lasts a lifetime.

Once, we took our kids to a museum in Washington, D.C. While there, we stumbled into a Sparks Lab. The visiting children were invited to sit down, put on goggles, and do fun experiments with the teachers. I’ll never forget the sparkle in my then-four-year-old’s eyes as he watched the solution in his test tube change colors. It was obviously the highlight of our visit.

Indeed, we meet the children where they are. As early as babyhood, curiosity and a desire to explore their world is what it’s all about. As adults, it’s our job to make sure they get the opportunity to discover life, and what this world is all about.

 

Manila Bulletin article: http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/349141/deped-drops-science-pupils

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