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Indecision in Education

Everyone’s talking about the latest SONA. So, I’ll leave them all at it.

That afternoon, while the President was delivering his state of the nation address, I heard a teacher say that the speech included the head of state declaring a suspension of the school year. Remarkably, this person who happened to be a teacher, seemed excited about the supposed news. So, I watched for that alleged declaration on the news reports on the SONA. I waited. Yeah, the President took a jab at Sen. Drilon. He expressed satisfaction over the economy’s relatively strong survival amidst the pandemic. (well, if you ask me, if the economy’s holding its own, I think it has little to do with the administration’s programs but more to do with the individual Filipino spirit of ingenious and resilient will to get by through the quarantine restrictions.) He laid out plans which I think the common Filipino would find hard to relate to. (Wait a minute, didn’t I say, I wouldn’t talk about the SONA) Then came the statement about education – he directs DOST, DICT and other agencies to coordinate with DepEd in the implementation of online education. Cooperation is quite a far cry from suspension.

Every parent is held in suspension, asking questions. How are we going to go about with school this school year? It has been four months since the quarantine in its various forms started, and the education sector is still singing, “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”. I’ll let you in on something. This could help us understand why campus gates can’t decide to swing open or close.

There are several types of people among teachers, administrators, parents, students and common people involved in education. First are the Online Operatives. These are people who push for online learning through the utilization of all or any technological applications available and possible. They are ICT enthusiasts who would campaign for teachers and learners to acquire the laptops and/ or tablets or smart phones with the appropriate specifications, and inalienably strong and reliable Internet connection. They would advocate for the continuity of learning through virtual vignettes, with little faith on the lack of interaction of modules and the risk of physical interaction. The Online Operatives offer themselves to this opinion to the point of disregarding the inability of many parents and students to acquire gadgets, the inaccessibility of Internet in many parts of the country and the unreliability of electricity.

Second, there are the Module Masters. These are teachers, administrators, parents and even students who favour the draft, distribution and delivery of hard copies of distance lessons. These are people who place reliance on the reliability on the time-honored traditions of paper and pen which would not require technology and training. The Module Masters magnify the modules that they may reject online learning even in its availability, accessibility and adaptability.

Third, there are Face to Face Fanatics. These are people who despite the danger and the declaration of the President, remain loyal and true to the tenets of education in physical interaction. Many of them may not be very open about their opinions. But underneath it all, when they go home, they fervently pray for a miracle that in one snap of Thanos’ fingers, schools could open to offer the traditional face to face classes. They would be quiet in discussions about online education or modular learning. They would find ways to rationalize and justify physical classes. They are on the watch for localities without Covid-19 cases, decreasing number of cases or protective procedures for face to face classrooms. In their hearts, they are gripping on that hope that soon, teachers and students could come together to bask and breathe the same air.

Finally, there are the Friends of Freeze. These are teachers, administrators, students and common folk who anticipate, adhere to and advocate the total suspension of the school year. In this school of thought, the best way to prevent infection is to altogether suspend the academic year. No classes, no Covid. This sector puts highest emphasis on health and the total and definite prevention of infection. This camp strongly campaign against face to face classes. Furthermore, they may view modular learning as inefficient and ineffective, and online education as problematic and pretentious. In this party, the best response to education in the middle of this pandemic is total suspension to certainly prevent infection and investment on unproductive experimental education programs. In their passion to prevent the contagion , they have intently ignored available opportunities and courses of action that offer high potential to continue children’s learning. There are also groups in between, which are hybrids of two or more of those groups. When one sector or movement is composed of these participants with differing perspectives, what could we expect with their direction? Indecision.

“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” James 1:6

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