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“Localization” has been defined as “…freedom for schools or local education authorities to adapt this curriculum to local conditions,” (2004; 2), and “…relating the content of the curriculum and the processes of teaching and learning to the local environment” (2004; 3). This flexibility in adapting the program of education for students to local conditions, often away from the capital city and urban population centers is a direct response to traditional curriculum design, which Taylor has described as “…too full, rigid, inflexible and irrelevant to lives of learners” (2004; 2).
This idea of relevance is critical to the understanding of localization and the policy planners who have been active promoters. Taking into account the “…cultural and socio-economic realities” (UNESCO, 2002; 31) of local populations when designing educational content is critical in engaging these students in the learning process. A crucial failing of educational systems, worldwide has been their lack of relevance to the lives of learners. This lack of relevance weakens the mentioned connection and bond between communities, learners, and schools; and thus damages educational outcomes through decreased student, community, and teacher engagement in the learning process. Miller notes:
Technically speaking, localization is the process of adapting and relating the content of the curriculum and the process of teaching and learning to local condition, environment, and resources. Meanwhile, contextualization is the process of presenting lesson in meaningful and relevant context based on previous experiences and real-life situations. In commonality, both adhere in making the lesson flexible, fit, creative, relevant, meaningful, and adaptive to students’ level of understanding and instructional needs.
The concept of localization and contextualization falls on the idea that students learned best when experiences in the classroom have meanings and relevance in their lives. Things students do and associated with them are the learning that last forever. Applying the rule for learning by doing, applied learning, and manipulative learning is also a must in executing localization and contextualization in teaching.If students were put in an actual learning environment letting them to manipulate, relate, and adapt to various learning opportunities and resources available within the locality or community, profound learning will be assured and realized. It helps teachers and students comprehend concepts by relating and presenting lesson on the context of prevailing local environment, culture, and resources. Hence, lessons are becoming more real-life, customized, and appropriate.
But, we have to keep in mind that not all lessons in Araling Panlipunan (Social Studies) can be localized and contextualized. Teachers should not compromise the concept and content of the lesson just for the sake of making contextualized and localized version of it. Learning standards and competencies should always precede contextualization and localization. In some instances, localization and contextualization defeat the goals of the lessons due to concepts and contents that were overtly localized and contextualized, resulting to mislead and overdo lesson.
Nonetheless, teachers should be adaptive and creative in using localization and contextualization in teaching. Such principles were made and adapted in the academe to make the curriculum responds, conforms, reflects, and be flexible to the needs of the learners, especially the 21st century learners who need to be holistically and skillfully developed. Yes, it is true that sometimes we understand more the concepts by relating them to ideas that we can easily comprehend, appreciate, and relate in our lives, but the standards of quality and relevant education should always be considered all the times and should not be compromised just for the sake of localized and contextualized lesson.
By Ruena Tinong