I learned later on that the owners of those eyes were part of the class. They were constrained to give my boss’ constipated performance a mandatory standing ovation outside because there weren’t enough seats inside to accommodate them.
Those kids had it good actually. The kids at the back of the class had to risk their limbs performing a delicate balancing act on chairs that looked like they were held together by safety pins. Some chairs had no back rests, arm rests or had gaping holes on the seats like toilet bowls.
More than a decade after witnessing that state of calamity, I wonder how modern Philippine classrooms are doing. Based on news reports, there have been changes. Here are just some of the improvements that support better learning:
- Due to the lack of classrooms, existing classrooms can now be occupied by two different grade levels being taught two different subjects. This permits young pupils to learn as early as grade 1 the concept of division. As a bonus for good performance, a teacher can reward her pupils by performing magic. She can disappear from one half of the room and reappear in the other half so she can teach both classes. This is a basic trick since most teachers have yet to master the illusion of being in two places at one time.
- Pre-school students who have no classrooms squat in the hallways during classes, thereby allowing them to develop their leg muscles, a good preparation for higher physical education lessons.
- Older kids also have their share of classroom shortages that’s conveniently solved by night classes. That’s good training for when they join the BPO/call center workforce.
- Many students still have classrooms. Some of these promote practical and hands on education. Students can make detailed observations of the underwater greenery in their flooded rooms or learn proper garden shovelling when the water subsides.
- Classroom sharing can be done across one grade or year level so students can concentrate on learning just one lesson at a time. This serves the dual purpose of values formation. Students learn quicker the value of endurance when they have to share a tight square space with 60 to 90 other human beings.