The introduction of the Taking of Textbooks Out of School and No-Homework Policy of 2019 is a bill that proposes for the textbooks to be kept inside the classroom; it also proposes that no more homework may be sent to the children from Kinder to Senior High and all school work be done inside the classroom. The bill cited the physical health of growing children and the quality time that they may spend with their families as among the main reasons behind this radical proposal.
The bill stirred many reactions among different sectors and many jumped right away to question this bill, but many educators, especially the Department of Education (DepEd), are in favor of it. I am glad that the leaders and the Department of Education are looking into the physical wellbeing of the young children. Others may say that we are depriving the young generation the lesson of responsibility. On the contrary, I think that regardless of time, the value of responsibility may be very well taught in the classroom and at home – homework or no homework. I am mainly concerned with the economy of teaching in the classroom. Say, for example, five teachers from different subjects give assignments to be submitted the next day. What will be the result of this? Most probably, we will have children who lack rest and are stressed. And we know how stress and lack of sleep is closely linked to depression.
We have experienced this before. I remember being in Grade Two with loads of Math assignments, Filipino oratorical memorizations, and English spelling assignments, I would sleep at not later than 11:00PM and wake up at 5:00AM to prepare for school. In hindsight, this is not a very healthy approach for an eight year old.
The human being is designed so rhythmically that night time is designed for catabolic processes. This means that rest is highly needed for individuals who have been awake and active for 8-10 hours in the day. A child from 0-12 is advised to have 10-16 hours of sleep for their brain and organ development. With loads of assignments, this concern about rest will be heavily disregarded. This concern may be well addressed by this bill.
Another point is that the physical wellbeing of children, especially those from 0 – 12 years old must be taken with absolute care because at this age, the organs are still developing. The limbs are still being worked up by the life forces and I agree that a minimum of five 200-page textbooks being carried by the child everyday is detrimental to their health.
I have sensed among my contemporaries that the fear of no more homework stems mainly on the idea that the children may grow irresponsible because there are no more obligations that require follow through at home. On another perspective, sense of responsibility, like any other values, may be taught in many other creative ways. It is also good for us to teach our children boundaries. To know when to work, when to stop and when to continue – to know that there is time for everything.
I recently met a mentor named David Simpson from New Zealand, he has been a Waldorf School teacher for 30 years. One of things he emphasizes is the necessity for teachers (and I presume, parents too) to exercise their will to follow boundaries. This will require adults, however, to live up to what we want to impart to our children. Values like respect for time and following through responsibilities are invisible threads that are absorbed by the children simply by our way of living. IF parents and immediate authorities strive to live responsibly, then, I have no doubts that we will raise responsible adults. But if we adults are only so much about talk and moralizing, then needless to say, children will also end up as that.
We cannot be perfect, of course. It’s our striving that matters. And yes, for DepEd, our educational system is far from perfect but I feel hopeful with this bill.
Joan Mae Soco-Bantayan is a teacher at Tuburan Institute, Inc. She is also a wife and a mother of two. For questions and comments, feel frree to drop her an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her Facebook page, Joan Mae Soco.