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Lapid’s proposed ‘school bag law’ insightful, sensitive

/ 10:59 PM October 17, 2011

This refers to the Oct. 9 editorial (“A silent movie”) on Sen. Lito Lapid’s apparent lack of qualification to hold office as a senator.

The editorial pointed out Lapid’s weaknesses as a senator—among them, his reported tardiness, lack of English proficiency and less than stellar academic background. Rightly so, given that lawmaking requires a high degree of legal understanding and a much higher level of skill for presenting and expressing oneself so that he or she may argue successfully and get bills signed into law. However, I disagree with the view that  Lapid’s proposed law seeking to limit the weight of Filipino children’s school bags is bizarre.

As a teacher, school administrator, educator and reading specialist, I find the proposal to be extremely insightful and sensitive, and I would like to see the day that such a law is passed. Many schoolchildren are carrying bags that are far heavier than they can actually carry from their homes, lift on and off the vehicles they take to school, and carry up and down the stairs to their classrooms. Pediatric orthopedic specialists have already raised their concerns about this not being healthy at all. I have seen small, thin children from public and private schools act like professional weight lifters in the manner that they prepare their bodies for lifting their bags. Should such a law be passed, we may be assured that our children would live healthier lives while they are in school.

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Lapid and his team must have found the reason children’s bags are just so heavy. I think they know that these are full of textbooks and workbooks which are about one to two per subject or seven to 15 in all. Perhaps they know too that the reason they have these many textbooks and workbooks is that teachers have become completely dependent on them. Relying on textbooks for content, learning activities and assessment procedures has made the delivery of education very efficient and uniform in the same manner that assembly lines in factories have ensured that products come out in exactly the same way. Without textbooks, teachers and school administrators would have to become creative, innovative and effective. It would require so much time and effort to study, reflect and prepare lessons which are appropriate, meaningful and engaging. It may seem possible that Lapid wants an educational system that is run by educators and not by auxiliary sales agents of big textbook publishers.

Indeed, as the editorial deemed it, proposing to regulate the weight of school bags is bizarre. It is bizarre because it would seem we need a national law to point out what is obvious—that it is wrong to make children carry that much and that overreliance on textbooks is not good educational practice. If parents and teachers can’t see this, then maybe a law can make them.

—VICTOR A. VILLANUEVA, director and reading specialist, Readability Center; director and English teacher, The Builders’ School; former faculty member,  UP College of Education

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TAGS: education, Legislation, Lito Lapid, Senate
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