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A Change of Mind About Schools


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rainymike

I used to avoid the larger more elite private schools here. Mostly because I wanted my kids to rub elbows more with working class type families than elite families.

 

But I've changed my mind after this year. These are just my experiences and not intended to be a general picture of private education in this country:

 

I'm now more inclined towards the larger privates. Although I still prefer the smaller privates here's what I've been observing. The larger schools seem more financially stable. Smaller schools are much less so. Larger schools have the resources to adapt to change. Smaller schools much less so. The elitism that I feared in the larger schools exists in a more malicious way in smaller schools. 

 

This year the two boys attended a small Christian private school. The youngest girl who just started school was sent to a large and more elite private school. Things this year went much better for our youngest boy. He has experienced teachers and has made huge progress over last year. On the other hand, our oldest boy has all new teachers (about six of them) who are in their first year of teaching. The older boy is experiencing: grades are delivered late (like a whole month later), curriculum is not clearly followed, some textbooks are almost useless, neophyte teachers with fresh degrees still think they are gods with all the answers, and the school is struggling to meet their financial needs and implement the new national curriculum. Bullying continues to be a problem.

 

The girl's school is also private and must finance itself and implement the new curriculum. But it seems to be doing so much more smoothly. The school's leadership seems much more in tune with national educational issues. And, as part of a larger system of colleges, it seems to have a much larger resource base to draw from. Facilities are superior (library, pool, teacher aides, security, etc.).

 

As with all privates, the patronage system is at work. But at the smaller school it just seems more malicious. The biggest donor ends up being the president of the PTA, wins the parent contests, and has a bastard of a son who is a troublemaker who seems above the law. That's really not the message I want my boys to see. I'm not saying this kind of patronage doesn't exist at the larger school, but it is much less visible.

 

My partner isn't one to take a 'that's how it is' view of things. She's president of the fourth grade PTA group and has bumped heads with the principal, teachers and school PTA president. Our complaints even lead to one particularly incompetent teacher being dismissed. But in the end, I suspect it just results in more jealousy and subtle discrimination against the boys. We don't need that kind of hassle.

 

Next year, we'll send all the kids to a larger elite school. It's not a perfect solution, but a lesser of evils. LOL ... but we just have to shake our heads when we're sitting at Jollibee's across from the larger school. Not unusual to hear the really rich kids bragging about who has the larger monthly allowance. OMG ... 20K a month? Social setting may not be perfect, but at least the instruction seems superior.

 

 

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MattFromGA

Sounds like another articulation of the human experience.  Welcome.

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Jawny

I've had three children (As well countless nephews and nieces) attend both public and private schools nearby. This has been from pre school through first year of college. The public school was a disaster primarily because of the lack of resources and poorly organized teaching. Huge student loads (60 plus students in a classroom for 30), limited access to resources like textbooks and such. My SIL and some cousins are teachers at the public school and reveal even more weaknesses in the particular school near to us. Some public schools may be fine, but not accessible to us.

 

The private schools we have used are associated with a large well-known university nearby. There are many other smaller private schools, but way too small or require a long commute, daily. So, we have stayed with the "elite" school associated with the university. We accept the limitations, since we don't want the commute nor have our children boarding nearby the distant school.

 

In effect, we have accepted the crap rather than make another choice.

 

The social interactions you describe take place in all of these schools. There are always families who want their children to succeed, even if it is at the cost of their education. For example, they have tutors, who are the ones really doing to the homework assignments. It is easy to do badly on exams, but still be an honor student since the grading systems allow for points for all sorts of participation. So, fail an exam, still make honors.

 

No sense discussing this with the teachers as they are part of the same system that has been like this for decades. In fact, they even use some of the materials they were taught in high school. By use, I mean they keep a USB drive with documents with their class readings and such, taken from Wikipedia. This in in lieu of textbooks. Why no textbooks? The families complained about the cost.

 

In Cebu, I would imagine the choices are greater. However, I would still expect the elitist sort of behavior will be around in all of these schools. It is just part of the educational system.

 

My child was valedictorian at grade six graduation. The salutatorian was the best friend. That same child asked the teacher to lower my child's grade, "just a little bit" so the child could be the valedictorian. Being in second place was too much to bear.

 

Parent teacher consultations are a public affair, so we can listen in to the discussions with the teachers. It is stunning to listen to the blame game played when students don't get honors or worse, fail a class.

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Headshot

We sent our daughter to SHS Ateneo this year, and we have absolutely no regrets. Her classroom is the most cheerful educational setting I have seen in the Philippines. There are only 17 children in her class. The teacher has been teaching for 18 years, and is very enthusiastic and loving toward the children, and there is also a teacher's aide.

 

They have good textbooks (which they follow). They have a published schedule (that parents can follow and know what their child is doing each day). They go to the library once a week with a librarian (for story time). They have music once a week with a specialist music teacher (singing). They have PE time everyday at one of two wonderful playgrounds (one open and one under cover for rainy days).They have Chinese lessons once a week with a specialist Chinese teacher(basic Mandarin). All of this is in second-year nursery school.

 

Unlike the school where we sent her last year, the classroom is very transparent (parents can watch how their child is interacting from time to time from outside the classroom through a window). It seems to me that if they take such good care of their pre-elementary students, it is also likely that the elementary and high schools are probably just as structured and challenging.

Edited by Headshot
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Soarking

I send my son to East Vasian Acadmey. I like their emphasis on music. He plays piano, violin and saxophone. When they have concerts I am surprised how Mano students play the violin. A good Christian education.

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Not unusual to hear the really rich kids bragging about who has the larger monthly allowance. OMG ... 20K a month?

 

I'd pay 20k a month just avoid those spoiled brats, are there any elite public schools? Or private schools that rich Filipinos avoid?

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