Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Big Secret

This is the sixth and final article in a series about an innovative solution to the problems faced in Philippine schools where too many kids and not enough resources reduce education to the lowest, slowest common denominator. Talented kids are today held back by "the system".

The "far out" program is called the Moon Model because it emulates the commitment and innovation that anchored American success at placing a man on the moon. Technology applied well. Teams working toward one goal.

Here are links to the prior articles.

Article 1:  Filipino kids are being denied a good education. Such a tragic waste. Many will never be all that they can be because they are handicapped from the getgo. Refer to: State Sponsored Child Abuse

Article 2: Proposes a striking new curriculum that builds personal character, critical knowledge, and the will and way to succeed. Refer to: The Philippine's Reach is Too Short to Grasp

Article 3:  Describes the  "Moon Model"  or internet based education requiring: (1) national commitment, (2) problem solving, and (3) technology. Lessons are provided by Mission Control and the program is rolled out in phases. Refer to: Sending Philippine Schools to the Moon

Article 4: Looks at the cost of giving each participating child a computer and internet access. Proposes to offer the program as an "honors class" to provide flexible management of overall expense. Refer to: "One Giant Leap for Filipino Kids"

Article 5: Explains how the role of the local teacher changes. Provides criteria for selection of teachers, selection of participating schools, issuance of computers, and selection of students for the program. Refer to: "Beam Me Up a Teacher, Scottie"

This is Article 6.

Why will the innovative Moon Model work? 

  • First of all,  It uses technology to reduce student time in the classroom and provide relief for a school system that is hopelessly behind in the building of classrooms and hiring of teachers. It uses technology and centralized instruction to end the expensive, rigid and futile reliance upon written textbooks and overworked teachers.

  • Second, it assures higher quality lessons because the best educators in the nation are working on lessons for all students, disseminating them via the internet.

  • The curriculum inspires students. It does not put them to sleep or bore them with useless memorization. It is a choice. Hours spent memorizing multiplication tables for manual computations that will rarely be done in real life. Or one hour learning how to multiply (or find square roots) using a computer spreadsheet's mathematics functionality.

  • It provides flexibility so that students can proceed at their own pace, not be bound by the slowest student in the classroom. This will allow the brightest students to surge ahead. The educational system will no longer hold them back.

Consider how rigid the traditional model is. The one used today. Bright students are held back by instruction that must be watered down to reach a large number of students. In a situation where classes average 45 students per teacher, learning is extraordinarily slow. Such a waste. Minds with the greatest potential are forced to plod along through rigid lessons from a fixed textbook. They must listen passively and obediently while the teacher and slower students struggle to move forward.

  • The Moon Model is active learning. The smartest kids are encouraged to grow . . . not go slow.

Students now waste time memorizing things that are available at the flip of an internet search engine. Why must they memorize the table of elements when they can search for it on the internet? Why are they not learning how to create? To innovate? To debate? To lead? Why are they not getting  precise pronunciation instruction on video via the internet from a skilled speaker?

  • The new curriculum teaches disciplines that kids can use to succeed, not minute data that are of no use in practical terms.

If you say "young people can't do these things" I fear you are one of the barriers. Young people are amazingly capable if given guidelines and a chance.

JoeAm's educational credentials: JoeAm was on the Parent's Board for an elementary school attached to one of the leading liberal arts colleges in Los Angeles, USA. Working with the college, the school tested and pioneered innovative instruction that recognized what the student learned is not as important how he feels about learning. When a student enjoys learning, he accelerates his quest for knowledge. Holding kids to a rigid teaching method kills inspiration. Not giving them a chance to succeed kills aspiration.

If you grasp the notion that kids can do amazing things, and ought not be held back by traditional teaching structures and problems, then you are ready to hear the Big Secret.

The Big Secret is this: the Moon Model not only will have kids teach themselves based on completion of internet lessons, they will teach each other by participating in small group teams. Much as a moon mission is carried out in a tightly knit team.

Teams will be structured within grade levels and between grade levels, where older students lead, tutor and counsel younger students. Sometimes the teams will be set up in pairs of two. Sometimes they will be set up in large groups of 10 or more. Each team will have a mission, a specific plan to follow, and guidance as to what each member is expected to do.

Team assignments will engage students in specific  areas of knowledge development, whether mathematics or agronomy, Chinese or identifying the importance of one's historical roots. Much as NASA breaks a space mission into components that are executed by specialized, goal-oriented teams.

Students will learn at a very early age the disciplines of setting an agenda, identifying problems, solving problems by brainstorming, getting everyone involved, sticking to schedules, getting results, and writing papers that all team members will sign off on. Students will learn how to lead, to innovate, to organize and how to be responsible to the team.

All of this will be done as moon missions are done. Under a specific set of instructions that keep the mission on track, but require a great deal of individual initiative for success.

Can you imagine? The best young minds in the Philippines set free to learn. And to learn not just data, like an unthinking robot, but the disciplines that anchor personal achievement: innovation, self-directed research, organization, problem-solving, commitment, leadership, and responsibility to others.

As Mission Control would instruct students:

  • Imagine it.

  • Organize it.

  • Do it.


  1. I agree. Allow students to use their minds. Give them the tools and they will build.

  2. Wow!

    I feel like I was in the moon.

    The idea would have been possible, had the NBN-ZTE wasnt corrupted.

    Would work in the cities equipped with broadband connectivity, the problem is the rural areas where internet connection is not available.

    Its Jack

    1. Yes, ZTE was a disaster. A good idea ruined by crooks.

  3. this. is. fantastic. when you gave us the secret, the light bulb went right off, just like you said. it's one of those hit-many-birds with one stone proposals. i'll spend some time looking for holes, though i don't think i'll find any.

    YbaƱez-Anderson (Andy)


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