April 1, 2010
Reflections by Chikako Shimomugi
It was my first time to observe Filipino public elementary school in local. I was very excited and also nervous at the same time. Here, let me write down what I felt there and also compare to Japanese public elementary school especially at my time there.
At first, what I realize about the school is very colorful. Especially, the one Krus Na Ligas elementary school is basically in yellow color and also on the walls, there are many paintings. I saw a big Ariel from Little Manmade in front of the steps. And also, one thing I was surprised is that there are quite many quotation from bible. In Japan, because of ratios of Christianities, we do not have theses sentences on a wall. Also there was a space in the middle and it looked like for having ceremonies and meetings with all students and teacher. However, there was a one things which is lacked comparing to Japanese school is play ground. Usually, I see it with almost of all schools in Japan. So I was wondering where and how you have PE class and also field days.
Secondly, there are so many desks and chairs in a room because usually 45 to 50 students are in a class. It is much over populated than Japanese class. It was around 35 students at my time, and mow, it is getting smaller because of the requests by parents. Actually the room is quite big so I did not look stiffed though, I could not believe that that view is with shifting schedule already. Even though they were cut out for their schedule morning class and afternoon class. Also I have never seen that Japanese school practice shifting class and also starting class from 6 o’clock in the morning. I also realize that there is only one recess in half day and I was very worried if they are not tired or stopped their concentrations.
Thirdly, many public elementary schools have uniforms in the Philippines. People say that it is not mandatory and people who cannot afford to buy them, people will borrow from neighbors. Also on Friday, at that school, it is not so strict about uniform and students can wear their own clothes. In Japan, we usually wear uniform from junior high school and elementary school where owns their uniform is mainly in private elementary school.
Also very interesting different points is the class time division. In Japan, it is consistently same at any subject. In elementary school, each class should have 50 minutes except for classes which was shortened because of some occasions. But in the Philippines, 3 components: HEKASHI, MSP, and EPP are only for 40 minutes. However for other subjects, they have class for 60 minutes. I think it is kinds of complicated because each class finishes in different time. So that they did not have any bells to inform their beginning of the classes and ending of the classes.
At the biggest thing I got culture shock is that students do not put many things on their desk, only a small notebook and pens. I knew lacking of textbook is big issue in the Philippines but still I thought this school is in Manila so it is not really worse. However, it is normal that students do not own their own textbook and the textbook which teacher hold is donated by some famous private schools. Teachers say that textbook in private school is very good because usually it is revised in 1 to 2 years and has latest information than textbooks which was published by Filipino national government. Also because of lack of text book, all teachers had Manila paper which was already written the question or equations on that. I guess it is used in repeatedly so the all sides of edge were covered by tape not to get damaged easily. In Japan, if you do not put anything on the desk, teachers will be angry because it will be evaluated as unmotivated on their studying.
However, because of lack of textbook, teachers are more paid attention toward students. They look at students longer time than Japanese teacher, because usually Japanese teachers are busy to wrote something on a board and looking at text book. Also in the Philippines, they make children to repeat the equations so many times. But because of the natural speaking speed, I think to answer this, children use more their brain. I think it is very effective than just looking at their textbook.
Also before I go to elementary school, I heard there are quite many students who drop out even in elementary school, also there are some students who cannot read by himself. So I interviewed some teachers about the fact at that school. The teacher said it is true that some students cannot come to school because of poverty. First, they go to house and see their parents. They discuss how they can solve the problem and let children to come to school. However, if especially the students are outstanding on their school, teachers can consider and sometimes give them grades even though their attendance is low. Also for the children who are not good at reading by himself and once teacher realize, the teacher give more attention when class read together. Also even outside of class, they have time to help children to practice reading together like tutorial but of course with no charge.
After I went to elementary school, I understand that seriously Filipino education has some issue which only government can fix. However, I also thought Japan and Philippines education which is better. In Japan, we almost never saw children who does not have textbook because they are usually provided by government to all children. However, Japanese schools and teachers use more board and we are quite busy to take notes. Filipino children do not have textbook but they use more brain, eyes, and mouth to understand. I think both of education has advantages and disadvantages. In the future, I hope I can combine both of positive factors for my teaching.