It’s not often that one gets the chance to sit down and talk with brilliant people. And that was exactly what I got when I, along with other bloggers, was invited to a lunch meeting with the brilliant mind behind the Darwin International School System, Mr. Rolando Dela Cruz.
Being a mother of three school-age kids, I often find reasons to rant about the educational system in this country (NOT necessarily about my kids’ school ha, let that be clear… Although yes, I do rant about that sometimes)… Ok, where were we? As I was saying…
Being a mother of three school-age kids, I often find reasons to rant about the educational system in this country. There is so much lacking. Kids graduate from high school and are still clueless when they get to college. As a result, the first two years of college are dedicated to to a general review of basic subjects.
And now, there’s the proposal to extend basic education from ten years to 12 years! This proposal has a lot of potential impact on Filipino families (especially on the finance side), and it’s something that’s not being taken lightly by most.
I went to the meeting because I wanted to know what this educator had to say about the current state and issues of Philippine education.
A former UP professor, Rolando Dela Cruz’s educational background is impressive, having studied in Japan, the Netherlands and the US. He took post-graduate studies at the Darwin College of the Cambridge University in England. This was the inspiration for the school he founded – the Darwin International School System.
More than being inspired by the name, Rollie was inspired by the University’s rich cultural orientation. Whatever he imbibed during his years in Cambridge, he now shares them at Darwin International School System.
The lunch meeting turned out to be four hours long! But I am not complaining. In fact, my mommy friends and I were telling each other that this was, so far, the most enriching blogger event we have ever gone to. We went home wiser, with new learnings to apply to parenting our children.
I also realized that one blog entry is not enough to cover all that I gleaned from those four hours. So I am dividing this into a series.
The following points are just some of the important things that I learned from those four hours.
On the real needs of the Philippine educational system: It’s not more classrooms, more budget, or more teachers. Rollie said real educational reform is “changing the mindset of the people towards the role of education.” Educational reform is not about having more budget, more classrooms, and more teachers (although it won’t be bad at all if we had these).
There has to be some deeper reform – a changing of mindsets, according to him. As a parent, I can’t agree more. The change in mindset is three-pronged: the school, the home, and the student.
- Changing the mindset of the school
Times have changed; students have evolved. Technology has made information readily available with just on click. Back in my time, I spent hours poring through books and encyclopedia at the library researching on a homework. Today, my kids just tell me “Ma, can I please borrow your laptop? I need to research for a homework.”
Are our schools riding the same wave? Do they realize that kids today are wired to be techies? Do schools realize that memorizing names, dates, places may have become irrelevant because these information are readily available with just one click? Maybe the old rote way of learning (memorization) does not apply anymore? Just a thought. (Note: These are my thoughts. I’m not quoting Rollie here.)
“In place of a parent” – this doctrine is something that some teachers today seem to have forgotten. Teachers are supposed to stand as the students’ second parents, having in mind only what’s best for them.
In a country where many families have one or both parents working as OFWs, in loco parentis takes on a more special meaning.
Teachers have the power to make a difference in a person’s life. I’ve had a few teachers who dedicated their lives to the teaching profession. And until now, I still feel the ripples from years ago.
One of my best teachers (if not THE best), Mr. Emmett Brown Asuncion, had an impact so deep in my life (and in the lives of so many, for sure) that I will always hold him dear in my heart.
His life and words so inspired me that I find myself teaching my kids today things that he taught me back in high school. Though he no longer lives, Emmett’s legacy lives on, and will probably outlive the life of the school he founded. Emmett exemplified in loco parentis.
The same fire I saw in Emmett, I seem to have caught a glimpse of in Rollie during the meeting. The schools these two brilliant minds put up are different in many ways, but I see similarities. They both wanted to produce students with deeply ingrained values – values such as excellence, nationalism, and appreciation of culture. This was the vision that they had in their minds.
Mindset – it’s where it all begins and changes. If each teacher, each school remembers “in loco parentis” every day, imagine the change that could bring to how they teach, how they look at our children?
Coming in Part 2: Changing the mindset of the home and the student
Mr. Rolando Dela Cruz is the President of the Darwin International School System, a Bulacan-based school that has been making waves in the education industry.
Darwin International School is the only school in Region III that offers a full-fledged Cambridge-based Honours Program wherein all enrollees need to maintain a very high annual average from nursery to high school. As a result, 93% of all Darwin graduates pass the entrance exams to all the top Philippine schools (UP, ADMU, UST, DLSU, Mapua, San Beda).
For the past 2 consecutive years, Darwin has been the number one school in Bulacan, based on NCAE results.
Darwin offers pre-school, elementary and high school education. It has campuses all over Bulacan – in Sta. Maria, in Malolos City, and in San Jose Del Monte.