Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Diliman Diary readers respond to "A letter from a UPCM alumnus to incoming U.P. President Pascual on less Antiquated Teaching Methods

Editor's note: Two Diliman Diary Readers have already responded to the email sent to us on January 16 by Dr. Leonardo Leonidas, a member of the U.P. Medical Society in America (UPMASA) regarding antiquated teaching methods at the University of the Philippines (please see: http://diliman-diary.blogspot.com/2011/01/editors-note-following-was-emailed-to.html) but for the original consumption of incoming U.P. President Alfredo E. Pascual. The original email seems to have acquired a life of its own, however due to reader interest in the subject. We are including both emails below. The first is from Dr. Gabriel G. Carreon and the second is from Mr. Romeo Santos, who sent us a comment to our Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Diliman-Diary/107709502591529

The first email:

Dear Dr. Leonidas,

I was pleased to read your article of 17 January 2011 in the Diliman Diary on improving teaching methods. Congratulations! The essence of learning are curiosity and initiative, among others. I would like to complement your experience with some observations and comments.

[1] There appears to be a revival on the fundamentals of a good physical examination – inspection, palpation, percussion and auscultation. There should be equal re-focus on good history-taking.

[2] Some U.S. medical schools are introducing the patient to the student as early as the first year; as well, the student is being introduced to the community early in the medical course. This should help in the early development of a social conscience in addition to a scientific mind.

[3] There is a pressing need for the early introduction of the student to the realities of the health care system where he will apply his medical knowledge, participate in organization, teamwork and networking and learn to prioritize decisions and actions.

[4] There is a need to learn to translate thoughts and words into action and to look for reasonable outcomes from available inputs and resources.

We hope these will be helpful to the UPCM.

Gabriel G. Carreon
UPCM 1953.

The second email:

You hit it bulls-eye, Prof. Leonidas! I appreciate your insights.

Yes, there must be a 'radical' change in the way instructions are done in UP- actually, it should be in the whole country. I agree with your 'evidence-based education', it's actually our 'results-based' advocacy, in which performance and success are measured not only by outputs, but more on outcomes.

I think it's an issue of pedagogy -why the professor you mentioned teaches the way he does. Most professors still stick to the pedagogic approach of 'transmission' and not 'transformation'. Transmission makes one professor think that students are just receiving vessels, that teachers are ‘know-all’ lords in the classroom, and what students shall do is to absorb, absorb, and absorb from the ‘most-knowing’ being. What makes it worse is that what students absorb is usually knowledge that the profs have accumulated through books (grey literature, mostly) and the lessons, styles, and mindsets, among many, were the same worn-out stuffs handed down to them by their own mentors. Transmission treats students as fraternity applicants that are under-going initiation, -that because profs have experienced ‘difficult life’ under their ‘masters’, it’s now their turn to get even.

On the other hand, transformation recognizes that students are partners in learning, that education is not a one-way process –both sides should learn from the teaching endeavor, and profs and students have equal stake in the learning initiative. Actually, the basic reason for education is to make one a well-rounded individual - one who is ‘changed’ for the better, not just for the betterment of himself, but the society. That is the very ‘LOGIC [THEORY] OF CHANGE’ central in any educational program. Otherwise, if the products of learning are individuals that have one-track mind and a narrow sense of learning (solidly focused on the technical, field or discipline-fixed application of the knowledge learnt), that he will use for self gratification and not for the common good, then the society will suffer disastrously. Learning outcomes (as measurable results) are evident in students who undergo education if they imbibe the values on which this education is basically premised. That is what we call evidence-based learning. If the purpose of the education is to produce individuals who are more concerned with becoming cum laude, board topnotcher, ‘crema del crème’ and to just graduate to advance own selves, then education is mere output-based.

It is no wonder why we always lament the fact that while, we, Filipinos are known to be intelligent people, we, as a society, do not progress much. My theory is that our education is basically flawed. It is very output-oriented and not what you said as ‘evidence-based’ or ‘results based’. We are turning out graduates who are mostly ‘parroting’ what their teachers did (and what these teachers had become), more often, self-centered and narrowly focused on the technical skills and knowledge of their disciplines, while evidence of values imbibed for the common well-being and upliftment of the collective whole are absent.

Have we ever asked ourselves?-WHY is corruption so selfish? ...When do we ever learn? - EDUCATION is not rote, it should be built around values that advance common good, and these values should be evident outcomes seen in the students we produce.

Romeo Santos

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