TEACHER CORNER | Using local heritage and contextualized materials in improving learning

by Allan C. Ronquillo
Head Teacher I
Del Gallego District

In recent years, the Department of Education (DepEd) has taken the stance that learning is more effective when information is presented in a way that students are able to construct meaning based on their own experiences.

Called contextual learning, this is based on the constructivist theory of learning and teaching.
DepEd has taken great efforts to advocate contextual learning, not only in the means of instruction, but also in the learning materials used in classes.

It recognizes that all learning is applied knowledge, and that constructs are continually shaped by people and objects outside of the individual.

Thus, the context in which teaching and learning aims to be achieved is crucial, not only because it strengthens understanding, but also because it makes the lessons more meaningful and relevant.

Inspired by DepEd’s advocacy and the constructivist theory it has adapted, I strive to use local experiences when giving examples in class.

Through this, students do not have to go through great lengths to imagine foreign experiences, because they can apply the knowledge and skills discussed to experiences that actually and truly affect their daily lives.

Why force students to imagine Mt. Fuji as an example of a beautiful land formation when we have our very own Mayon?

Why look painstakingly for images of unfamiliar fruits when our forests are filled with delicious and interesting ones?

Why spend tons of hours introducing pupils to heroes from other lands when we have our own roster of brave and patriotic men and women?

Meanwhile, I have always believed that local heritage is better preserved when it is acknowledged and given premium, instead of being relegated to the sidelines in teaching and learning.

Who else will give importance to our local practices like the bayanihan or the town fiestas than ourselves?

Who else will take time to learn about our town’s history than its constituents?

To achieve contextual learning, I encourage my fellow teachers to always think about inclusivity in the classroom.

If the examples are too foreign or far-removed from the local experience, it may alienate or exclude students from learning.

The solution is to engage in authentic and relatable learning experiences by using local heritage and contextualized materials.

By doing so, students not only learn better, but are also able to form new personal insights about the locality, increasing their love and appreciation for the place where they reside.

In the long run, this may even encourage them to help the local community, because it is full of sources of knowledge and skills that have helped them during their schooling life.