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Disaster of a different kind

Concept News Central

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It’s a universal truth: The best way to improve one’s life is to get a proper education. A college degree is best, a master’s even better.

But here’s another one: Everything you need to know, you may have already learned in kindergarten.

The latter, of course, is a rephrasing of the title of the bestselling “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum.

In this book, the author basically shares the belief that childhood experiences offer us lifelong lessons including:“Play fair.”

“Don’t hit people.” “Put things back where you found them.” “Clean up your own mess.” “Don’t take things that aren’t yours.”

“Say you’re SORRY when you HURT somebody.” “Wash your hands before you eat.” “Flush.” “Live a balanced life — learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work every day some.”

“Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup — they all die. So do we.”

These are universal lessons, but the only one we should glean from all that is: Children absorb more knowledge about the world than adults may realize. This is why we are told: Be careful what you say or do around children; you never know what you could be teaching them.

Yet what should trouble us even more is that some of the lessons actually being taught our children nowadays are not only factually erroneous but also simply wrong — skewed in reasoning, faulty in values.

Lately, alarm signals went off that may not have sounded like the disaster warnings emanating from our cellphones during the typhoons, but were just as strident.

“Grammar errors, wrong math equation and modules depicting gender stereotypes” gave parents reason to wonder about the quality of education received by the country’s over 24 million students who enrolled this school year.

The deluge of complaints against the Department of Education (DepEd) since the opening of classes should push the government to give the matter its gravest attention.

The DepEd received the biggest chunk of the national budget for 2021, but with so many errors identified in its distance learning modules, it should stop passing the buck to its local divisions and admit that the system they put in place needs a thorough revision.

It is not just about the many mistakes found by its own DepEd Error Watch in the first quarter self-learning modules (SLM) produced for distance learning this school year.

A report in late October reveals that “30 erroneous modules were from DepEd. Of the total, 27 are from DepEd’s schools division offices (SDO), while three are from the DepEd central office (CO).”

To err is human, indeed, but is it forgivable to excuse SDO “mishaps” teaching negative values?

That latest rant by Filipino global star Lea Salonga, for example, is about a learning module she discovered that teaches young minds not about prejudice, but how to be prejudiced.

In a Facebook page, she talks about a module that asks kids to fill in the blanks. One goes like this: “A tattoo is a symbol of ___?” The answer key, she reveals, says the correct choice is: “Pagiging kriminal (Being criminal).”

Before Lea’s flabbergasted reaction, actress Angel Locsin was in the news for another controversial module that went viral, released into the wild world by irate parents.

It was about the word “obese,” and how a physical education worksheet in Occidental Mindoro defined the word by naming real people Angel Locsin and Coco Martin as people who eat a lot and lack physical activity

Another module that asks students to match the activity with the gender puts them right back to the dark ages when women were only supposed to do housework and men earned the money.

DepEd Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio recently explained that while there are Quality Assurance protocols in place for every level of the SLM, whether locally-produced or emanating from the central office, errors still got through such as the “20 factual errors and seven computational or math equation-related mistakes” they have found so far.

The DepEd should learn that while errors of fact can be relearned, the wrong values can stay forever.

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