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  • A Mom's 10 Wishes In The Next 10 Years: No Pointless Homework, No More Grades

    "Let school be the ultimate imagination, idea, and inspiration laboratory."
    by Owie Dela Cruz .
A Mom's 10 Wishes In The Next 10 Years: No Pointless Homework, No More Grades
PHOTO BY @paylessimages/iStock
  • It’s that time of year when people think about wishes and resolutions. I spent mine thinking about the year I’ve had running a non-traditional learning center for teens and what I look forward to in the years to come. I also sat down with mentors, teens, and fellow parents to ask them what changes they wish to see in the Philippine education system. Here are our 10 wishes which we’d hopefully see in the next 10 years. 

    Wish #1: Let kids be kids because they’ll never be kids again.

    This season of their lives is meant to be fun, magical, and exciting, especially while learning. It’s the only season in their life when they’re free of big responsibilities. I’m still trying to understand why there seems to be such a rush in making preschoolers focus on academics more than other things.

    Growing up in Hong Kong, I never went to an actual preschool where academic lessons were being taught. I never had homework, school books, and grades. Preschool was definitely playschool for me until I was 7. All we did was play, create, sing, dance, run around, and take lots of field trips. We were allowed to be who we were — kids.

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    That all came to an end when I started first grade in the Philippines. I learned to read and write and do the math, but that was that. All other school memories include sitting at my desk almost all day, only getting up to eat or go to the toilet hurriedly. When I got home, I had loads of assignments due the next day.

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    Wish #2: Let school be the ultimate imagination, idea, and inspiration laboratory.

    Instead of focusing on just academics and expecting them to do homework and study for tests, what if we prioritize encouraging their imaginations to come alive? What if the majority of their time at school was spent on creating fun, useful stuff, and getting messy? After all, it is part of natural learning, and not because they’re working on a project they need to submit in exchange for a grade.

    What if we allow the magic of preschool to continue even in the teen years? Imagine what their future would be like if they’re all continuously encouraged to think of creative solutions to small and big real problems. What if we had more play-based and activity-based lessons that help them to be curious and care about the world they live in? After all, kids, teens (and adults) learn and remember stuff more when learning is done through play and activities. Learning is meant to be fun…not a drag, a chore or a bore.

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    Wish #3: Let us teach real independence.

    Make skills-based learning in school as a community and allow academic learning to be done independently with guidance from a teacher or mentor. This was a wish made by a teen. He said in this day and age when you can learn so much online on your own, why is there a need to study all these academic lessons in class? He feels there are more important things that can be learned in class than what is currently being taught.

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    Wish #4: No grades, please.

    There are non-traditional learning centers around the world that already have this as their reality. What if students go to school simply because they want to learn and not because they need grades?

    When I brought up this topic to a group of teens, one of them said, “Grades messed me up!” while another teen said he thinks parents use their kids’ report cards as a trophy. To the teens I spoke to, grades don’t translate to stuff they learned.

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    I still struggle to understand why there’s a need to measure how much they know in the first place. And, I’m going to say it, but why is there a need to compare kids based on how much they know?

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    Wish #5: Can school start at a later time?

    Why is it okay for kids to wake up insanely early to get ready for a long day at school? Kids need more sleep than adults do. If most offices start at 9 a.m., why are we expecting our kids to be in school before 7 a.m.? It would be great if students also have shorter hours at school, so they’d have more time to spend with family and friends or more time to focus on their interests and hobbies.

    Wish #6: No more pointless homework.

    Does it serve a purpose? Is it something that requires more time? And is it something that can’t be done at school? Sure, that’s totally understandable! However, homework for the sake of just giving homework? No, thank you.

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    While we’re at it, can we please stop giving kids projects which we know they can’t do on their own? Because it just encourages their parents to step in and work on the projects themselves in the name of high grades. Doesn’t it defeat the purpose if projects are being done by the parents?

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    Wish #7: Perfect attendance shouldn’t be rewarded, and absences shouldn’t be penalized.

    What message is this sending to kids and teens? Just like adults, kids and teens have bad days too, not only physically, but emotionally and mentally. If adults get to stay home and call in sick at work, why are we making it so hard for students to admit that they need a day or two off from school?

    Wish #8: Personalized versus standardized curriculum makes more sense.

    It totally makes sense for lessons in the university and post-graduate studies to be standardized, especially for courses that need specific standards. However, why do kids need to learn everything at the same time and at the same pace, even if they aren’t ready or also if they don’t really need it? Each child in a classroom is different. It’s like teaching elephants to fly and fish to walk.

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    Wish #9: Make it easier to get the necessary documents for homeschoolers to enter university.

    Now that more people are opting to homeschool their kids, I wish getting necessary documents wouldn’t be as difficult. In some parts of the United States, a family can write to the ministry of education about kid’s learning and the improvement and growth a parent has seen in their kid. Is it not simpler that way?

    Wish #10: I hope there are more non-traditional learning centers.

    Some kids and teens really don’t thrive in the traditional school system. Wouldn’t it be great to have lots of options for those who want or need options?

    Good grades do not always mean success. Read what your child also needs more here

    A homeschooling mom of two children since 2011, Owie dela Cruz has taught communication and collaboration to other homeschooled teens at the Fort and Alabang. She is the executive director at Abot Tala, a self-directed learning center.

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