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Alternative education

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George S. Chua

George S. Chua

I remember when I was growing up getting my formative education in grade school and high school, how limiting it was for me. It was like following a tricycle in a one lane road, where you can only go as fast as the tricycle in front of you. Of course there would also be some cases when the teacher’s lips are moving and the sound’s coming out, the words are audible but I have no idea what has been said!

It was agonizing for me to sit through a subject that I already understood and frightening when the pace was too fast for me in subjects I could not understand properly. Interestingly, a couple of months ago, I ran into one of my relatives, Joei Villarama, who was telling me about her alternative education for teens called “Abot Tala” literally meaning “reach for the stars.” While 50 years too late for me, this was what I would have wanted.

Abot Tala is an alternative to mainstream education. As we all know regular grade schools and high schools tend to be homework and memory driven with a standardized curriculum and rigid rules. On the other hand Abot Tala provides more flexibility and a personalized approach with a smaller ratio of educators to students and interest based learning. Essentially, this is a customized approach to leaning to suit the individual.

Of course I wanted to know if their program was accredited with the Department of Education and would allow their students to move on to take a college degree. Apparently so! It is like a school in that it has a permanent venue and regular school hours. However, it is also like a homeschool where the education and curriculum is customized for the student and there are no grades or report cards. In addition, they have partnered with DepEd licensed homeschooling professionals for compliance requirements to enable their students to get a formal degree.

The Abot Tala alternative education offers mentorship as well as personalized and collaborative learning. They have mentors instead of teachers, who help you develop and hone your own skills and interests. Mentors also guide you to maximize your potential and assist you in how to improve yourself. Learning is personalized where the teen can choose what to study and how to go about it, solo or in a small group, one on one tutorial or in a class. Collaboration between students is en-couraged to build a community of learners who help each other move forward through their unique paths and journeys. Abot Tala also aspires to connect their participants to learning opportunities within and outside the center’s walls, through internships, workshops and by linking them with people who could be role models in their chosen field.

Abot Tala is part of the Liberated Learners Network with centers across North America which has been around for more than 20 years. This concept is like a YMCA for academics, no one forces you to swim or take up a sport at the YMCA, you come on your own volition. For those of you that are interested, their website is www.abottala.com or you may call their founder JoeiVillarama at 09178568711 or 09209174527. If you want something different, this could be the better solution you are looking for.

(Comments may be sent to georgechuaph@yahoo.com)

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