Three-walled classrooms

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By Adrian Bobe


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

THE ever-resonating principle, "Education is far beyond the four walls of the classroom" often gets me confused. I thought to myself, "Is more effective education experienced outside the walls?" Or with a hint of me being casually 'pilosopo,' "If not four, how many walls would be firm enough to teach quality education then?"

Recently, I bumped into the answer I need: It has to be three. Yes, a three-walled classroom is the solution to, what appears to me, as an entangled educational system. The program is known as the three-wall structured experiential learning developed by the Elizabeth Seton School in Las Piñas City.

The way to the highly recognized and multi-awarded academic institution allowed me to pack on a bag of jitters to begin with. "Three walls? Seriously?" I said, while upon me is actually the model program I feel the schools in the province should consider developing in the future.


Quite awkward to the eyes as it appears like an unfinished structure, but the three-wall concept is re-shaping the educational system of the country to embrace the value of hands-on, practical, experiential and participative teaching. There is no door to knock on. The edifice is open, wide open.

The three-walled classrooms are charming to learn, and it is practically saving electricity with more open ventilation. Students are literally exposed to the real world as they perform class duties while other students and teachers pass by. The absence of the front wall may give access to a lot of distractions, but ironically, students learn to focus and draw much attention to the lectures. I caught one teacher saying, students tend to "get out of the box" as after all, they should not be boxed.

To break what it seems as a developing culture of conventional education limited to books and four walls, we have to literally tear down the walls itself.

Based on observations, children in the three-walled classroom tend to be more imaginative, inspired to work hard, adaptive to changes and are more sociable and open.

The short exposure trip to Las Piñas sparked on me to engage in structured experiential training. We initiated an educational outreach in Brgy. Mansilingan and explored the concept of borderless experiential learning.

Using less chalk and black board, we taught students how to mentally calculate and effectively memorize using mind mapping and word pegs. In some History, Math and Science exercises, instead of the brain draining and boring chemical symbols and country-capital lessons, students were running in the field in an "educational amazing race."

In some activities, students were blind-folded to practice Math skills. As oppose to the usual "silence please" classroom policy, students were allowed to be a little noisy during pop quizzes. A 360-degree turn from the conventional classroom management, but the three-wall style makes class discussions exciting.

With this not so formal approach, teachers can engage personally to the students. They develop the right amount of relationship to help students not just become bright minds but also active team players, leaders—expressive and vocal, competent and holistic.

Just like the pioneer campus in Las Piñas, it may start a little rocky with all the birthing pains in any town here. But, as in these words, “Change is the only thing constant in the world," then change has to start soon enough. As we tear one wall to make it three, we are expanding education and truly making it borderless as it is supposed to be— ever-changing and yes, never contained in the four walls.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on May 27, 2014.


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