Getting from A to B and B to C on Education

Last year, I got inspired about education, specifically, a way to stop the current pattern of doing things, forever building hollow-block classrooms and stuffing them with 45 kids each led by an overworked, underpaid, undertrained teacher who is happier than the kids are when the day ends. I wrote six articles about it.
The idea is to start rolling out internet classes to selected schools. Buying the kids laptops, enrolling honors students first, and letting them study at home or the coffee shop or the school cafeteria. Take some of the pressure off the brick and mortar, and the teachers. Leverage the brainpower of a few centralized teachers to do lessons for thousands of kids. Receive tests and papers on line. Grade them centrally with interns or lower-paid staff. Innovate, both on how lessons are delivered, and on the curriculum.  Teach things like leadership (small group exercises), problem solving, planning and organizing, judging risks prior to making decisions, that sort of thing. They would not be asked to memorize the table of elements, but they would have to know how to find it on line as a reference source. Local teachers would organize the program and counsel students.
These articles got a lot of circulation and a few months ago I read that a member of Congress involved on an education committee was talking up the idea about on-line education.  That’s great, and I hope something happens. The current model is unsustainable.
I am perplexed about how to get from A to B and B to C, to get anything done.
Here’s the Filipino condition. Problems here are generally recognized as insurmountable. People just can’t get around them. They give up. Get stopped in their tracks by any objection. Don’t do anything. Filipinos are very good at finding the flaws in things, the warts, the bugs, the barriers. The tolerance for risk is low. After all, who wants to be associated with problems?
They do not evidence much skill or desire to work around the barriers.
Therein lies the solution to the mystery as to why not much changes in the Philippines. Problems are seen as BEING the project. They are not seen as a challenging WRINKLE to the project, the hurdle to be overcome, the barrier to be passed, the bug to be squashed. Problems are not seen as the rewarding part of the project, once overcome.
No, problems stop it dead.
The problem BECOMES the project and no one wants to be associated with it.
The reasons? Face and ridicule. Face is the impossible demand for self-perfection. It is the defensive motivation that generates all the excuses and blames you witness. And ridicule is the vehicle by which one Filipino whips another into a lower state, thus elevating himself.
So the tolerance for risk-taking is low in the Philippines, indeed. The ability to give up is high. The desire to achieve is hammered into submission by fear of ridicule.
So I have an idea of how the Department of Education can make this very easy on themselves. There are  a number of on-line schools in the United States offering high school  classes. Like anything, I suppose, some are better than others, but here are two examples:
Knowledge of physics in the U.S. is the same as knowledge of physics in the Philippines, and English proficiency is expected among Filipino honors students. So there is no need to re-invent a bunch of new courses.
Just find the three best schools and have them bid on the Philippine core curriculum. Include with the bid requirements the need to develop a few new courses specific to the Philippines (Philippine history; tagalog), or to social programs focused on developing a competitive mindset among kids (team work, decision making). Have them bid on packages of 1,000 students, 5,000 and 10,000.
Ascertain that the rigors of the class work are appropriate to assign credentials to the program comparable to a physical high school.
You could have your program put together in a year.
I tell you what, if I were a younger man, I would not offer up this ideal in a public forum. I’d keep it quiet and develop the school privately myself in the Philippines, get it credentialed, and start selling enrollments.
I don’t think this is rocket science.
I’d get rich by helping Philippine kids get smart.
Frankly, it is an idea only one entrepreneur short of a million dollar business: a private, on-line school teaching modern subjects in modern ways.
If the Department of Education REALLY wants to make it easy on themselves, they only need to assign a small portion of their bloated brick and mortar budget to funding a few start-up private/public educational programs providing internet-based education.
Comments
10 Responses to “Getting from A to B and B to C on Education”
  1. Anonymous says:

    From: Island jim-e (aka: the cricket)1. Right on bro…! Your on the right track!Your in-sights are well stated! The tools are available to produce a showcase system within two years from putting the program into action!How do I know you ask! Good question, thank you!2. I once had a dream and I had R/TV production experience, so a large mid-USA hospiteal wanted to do a start up in-house system. This "pink hospital on the hill" was funded by a wealthy tycoon and money was apparently no object they told me! So I signed on as the first ETV director/producer….started with a few tools, expanded to hardwire mini-classrooms on each hospital floor, hardwire the surgey, put the headend repeater in the library and started to organize and produce thenecessary "substance"….even hooked up local cable tv and micowave two way talk back to other hospitals and universities….wow! 3. You are right! The tools are available and coupled with a screening system to cull/seperatethe tehnical minded students (like the European model) from the university plus students programcould fly into "showcase status" within two years from the "go"…! All it would take is a brain trust, funding, some hard resources, a support system, leadership, admin, management and a few monitors to keep the program flow model in tune! So, hats off to you! I hope some good will come from your efforts….I hope (no faith, no trust left)…now for the "magic"!chirp!

  2. In the U.S., technically proficient wizards would recognize this as a huge market, untapped. Educating young people efficiently and in the thoroughly modern way. I'd guess "entrepreneur" is another one of those words that does not exist in Tagalog. There are a lot of brick and mortar private schools. Where is the bigger vision, I wonder? And why aren't educators firing it up, I also wonder. Rather, we hear the moans year after year about budgets too small to build enough schools . . .

  3. Anonymous says:

    Joe,Once again, it is my favorite subject and it is great to bring it up again.Internet based education is one alternative to ease the classroom over crowding and it is a brilliant idea. One smart Filipino entrepreneur should listen to you, but let me remind you that this could be possible only if DepEd solved the CR problem first then they can go high-tech. Feels good to get that sarcasm out of my chest.Here is another good one: They could solved this problem if they want to but they dont want to. Its economics Joe. You see, private schools will loss a lot of money if Public school is competitive, so the elite wants to keep it the way it is. I know it is a sick proposition, but it is likely.So what do we do? I need to borrow your sledge hammer to take it with me when I visit Congess. Its Jack

  4. Ha, it's here in my garage.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I find this site great, just to add to your list: http://www.khanacademy.orgI am thinking maybe someone there would create a similar site, using Filipino or any local dialect.-ricelander

  6. What an amazing resource! Thank you for the reference.

  7. Will load it up, thanks. For sure this is a modern way to think and distribute education. Think of how many teachers could be offloaded with a platform of several hundred video courses.

  8. More than eighty posts are now on this site. And it all started with First Things First: A Commentary on DepEd's K +12. This article, first published in Philippine Star, was my attempt to examine the elements introduced by the new K to 12 curriculum of the Department of Education of the Philippines. To aid the readers of this blog, it is perhaps time to collate these posts and summarize the key messages. Please read the overview to see what is inside this blog. Thank you for visiting.http://philbasiceducation.blogspot.com/

  9. Angel, good of you to visit and refer us to your blog. I visited the site and clearly you put a lot of work into this project. I note that there is severe criticism of President Aquino, and of the K-12 program, reciting ACT's condemnation which reads a little to me like a communist manifesto:' “If President Aquino is genuinely concerned on the quality of our education, he should not blindly follow the dictates of monopoly-capitalists., address our own problems and get real,” Ms. France Castro ended. 'I can understand how implementation of K-12 has the education system in chaos, because it was in chaos before, with 45 kids per classroom.But this constant blame and carping rather turns me off. The roots of the problem are overbirthing, poverty, and extraordinary demands on the Philippine national budget. Educators seem to say give me more more more so I can do the same same same. And all the problems are from "out there" rather than "in here", which we control . . .

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