The National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), an advisory body of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) presented several policy recommendations to make education more attuned to the needs and personalities of today’s generation of young learners. Called the Alpha Generation, today’s learners are products of early schooling programs and tutorials, and weaned on advanced information and communication technologies such as the Internet and social media.
These modern environmental factors have helped reshape the psyche of these learners, thus requiring necessary changes in teaching and learning methods.
“There is no denying that today’s generation is very different from the one that we knew several years ago,” stated NAST President, Academician William G. Padolina, in his welcome remarks during the “Round Table Discussion (RTD) on Educating the Alpha Generation” recently organized by NAST’s Social Sciences Division at the Hyatt Hotel Manila. The RTD drew insights from respected members of the academe who presented the latest trends and research findings on educating Filipino youngsters aged 6-16.
Shifting to process-induced learning
One of the proposals was to shift from the more traditional teacher-induced learning methodology to process-induced learning or PIL.
The Central Visayan Institute Foundation (CVIF), a secondary school in the remote municipality of Jagna, Bohol has been implementing PIL since 2002 under its Dynamic Learning Program (DLP).
In her talk on “Experiences and Insights on Educating Generation Y and Z: A Springboard for Educating Generation Alpha,” Dr. Ma. Victoria Carpio-Bernido, CVIF principal, said that the school’s PIL program is anchored on improving learner disposition among its high school students.
This entails biological conditioning and habit formation activities, among others, according to Dr. Bernido. In CVIF, these are achieved by requiring students to record their activities and learning targets in their Activity Sheets every day.
“This is a daily protocol which serves as internal motivation for the learners. It is habit forming and their brain starts telling them that it’s time to learn. This will make them more prepared for the more rigorous work ahead in college,” explained Dr. Bernido, a renowned physicist and a 2010 Ramon Magsaysay awardee.
CVIF’s parallel classes scheme with limited teacher intervention likewise helps improve learner disposition. This means all sections in each year level are having the same subject periods at the same time. For example, all First Year classes are having Science subjects at the same time in the morning to conform with the students’ biological cycles.
In the case of Science being a difficult subject, scheduling the class in the morning would be ideal because at this time of the day, the students still have the physical and mental energy to deal with a complex subject.
During classes, expert teacher intervention is limited to only one-third or one-fourth of the whole subject period. The expert teacher refers to the subject teacher. For the rest of the period, only a facilitator is present. A facilitator could be a teacher of another subject.
“This strategy will give students more time to do independent work on standardized tasks and increase their attentiveness as well,” Dr. Bernido remarked. She explained further by saying that by the time the expert teacher comes in and takes over the class, the students will be more eager to listen to her discussion and therefore be more attentive.
Classes in CVIF have no introductory lectures for 70 to 80 percent of the time as well. Instead, independent learning activities – exercises and problem solving tasks, among others – are held immediately. This is opposed to common classroom practice where lectures and class discussions are held for 70 to 80 percent of the time.
The school also implements strategic study-rest periods and prohibits students from bringing home their projects. Homework is also not given in all subjects for all year levels. The reason for this, Dr. Bernido explained, is for the parents to make sure their kids are in bed early, instead of having them in front of their computers and pretending they are doing their assignments and school projects.
“If they are in bed early, they don’t have any reason to be sleepy in school. Instead, they will have enough energy for schoolwork the whole day,” said Dr. Bernido.
Aside from CVIF, 156 other public schools in Bohol have adopted PIL in their curriculum as well as in various primary and secondary schools in Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga, Davao, Leyte, and Manila, among others.
More attention on science, math
Aside from addressing the unique needs of Alpha Generation, the program also hopes to achieve a more specific and localized objective: produce more qualified teachers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics related disciplines or STEM, and increase the number of students enrolling in these courses.
“STEM have been observed to play a very dominant role in the economic development of countries,” said Dr. Bernido. “Government is focusing on these disciplines, but the reality is that there is a decline of qualified teachers as well as a decline in the number of students in these disciplines. So we go back to the question ‘Why is there a decline?,’” she elaborated.
One of the reasons, according to experts, is the general perception that these are difficult subjects. “Hence we try to address this through the curriculum that we implemented under the DLP which will improve the learner disposition, combined with a good STEM curriculum,” explained Dr. Bernido.
The need for kids to be resilient
Dr. Queena N. Lee-Chua, associate professor of Ateneo de Manila University’s Psychology Department, added that children need to build their resilience. “We need to develop them today. They also need at least one positive role. On the other hand, parents should challenge their kids to meet high expectations, find their individual strengths, encourage them, while avoiding hyper or under-parenting.”
Equally important, she said, is for parents to set goals with their kids, instead of setting their own goals for their kids without asking the latter about their plans.
“The challenge now is to guide learners situated in diverse local and global conditions to superior levels of performance in disciplines of their choice,” said Dr. Bernido.
“Being in the early years of the generation, many of the current trends are unprecedented. If we are expecting a better future, then something must be done in the education system of the Alpha Generation to properly guide the youth in their journey,” Padolina declared.