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IMPULSES | Unleashing teacher creativity

By Herman M. Lagon

There is a pressing problem in our basic education sector, where the smell of chalk is still there despite the digital revolution: the learning policies are restricting the inventiveness of teachers. The Department of Education (DepEd), with its confusing array of policies, procedures, and directives, regularly stifles the creativity of our instructors. Paradoxically, research from organizations like the Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) indicates that there has never been a greater need for educational reform, which coincides with this rigidity.

Albert Einstein commonly says it is crazy to keep doing the same thing and expect different outcomes. But our educational system is trapped on an endless hamster wheel, constantly going but never reaching its destination. We must free our educators from the stifling confines of too-prescriptive regulations and allow them to innovate for our children’s future.

“Why should we allow teachers to innovate?” one may ask. First of all, by considering pupils’ different learning styles, innovation ensures that education is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Students are better prepared for the constantly changing and technologically dependent real world by the environment it fosters, which promotes creativity and critical thinking. Additionally, allowing teachers to take risks boosts student enthusiasm and engagement, which creates a more vibrant learning environment.

But as PBEd has demonstrated, the current state of affairs is appalling. Laws restricting the creativity our system requires to overcome these challenges exacerbate the learning problem plaguing our educational system. The organization’s demand for a review of policies like mass promotion and the need for precise student assessment highlights how serious the issue is.

Consider the inventive methods that DepEd’s present regulations forbid:
Flipped Classrooms: This paradigm modifies the standard learning environment by presenting instructional information outside of the classroom but is sometimes hampered by strict curricular standards and a lack of technology resources.
Flexible Seating and Classroom Layouts: Rearranging classroom settings to suit various learning styles frequently conflicts with strict safety regulations and rigid infrastructure.
Project-Based Education in Multiple Subjects: Working within the segmented structure and cramped competencies of the current curriculum makes it difficult to implement cross-curricular projects that foster practical abilities.
Rules for Bringing Your Own Electronic Device: Education concerning digital equity and stringent IT legislation can challenge integrating personal technology. The use of appropriate digital applications is also equally challenging in this respect.
Student-led conferences: When the focus shifts from teacher-led to student-led assessments, there may be issues with traditional reporting, evaluation techniques, and skills capacitation.
Unstructured Learning Time: Allowing pupils to follow their interests may be challenging in a system prioritizing set, time-bound learning objectives.
Outdoor and Experiential Learning: The opportunities for experiential learning are limited by safety laws and a curriculum that mostly concentrates on the classroom.
These are only a few examples of what could be achieved if teachers were allowed and empowered to use their imaginations. Rather than just adding technology and revising lesson plans, it is time to reconsider what teaching and learning entail in the twenty-first century.

The government and DepEd need to invest in infrastructure and technology integration, reduce the administrative load on teachers, and improve teacher salaries. We will not be able to fully utilize the ability of our instructors and students until then.

The recent controversy around the proposed combination of necessary courses under the SIKAP curriculum serves as an example of the more significant problem: a top-down approach to education reform that frequently ignores the knowledge of individuals working in the field. This serves as a sobering reminder that creativity should be nurtured from within, drawing on the rich knowledge and experiences of our teachers. It should not be mandated top-down by higher-ups, some of whom lack educational backgrounds, let alone expertise in education.

We are at the intersection of innovation and tradition, so the path forward is clear. The architects of our future are within the classroom walls, so we must give our teachers the authority to be change agents. Their blueprints should not be kept on the dingy bureaucracy shelves. As the saying goes, “Give a teacher a fish, and you educate a child for a day; teach a teacher to innovate, and you ignite the minds of generations to come.”


Doc H fondly describes himself as a ‘student of and for life’ who, like many others, aspires to a life-giving and why-driven world that is grounded in social justice and the pursuit of happiness. His views herewith do not necessarily reflect those of the institutions he is employed or connected with.


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