We Can Do Better: An Immersive Technique for Civic Education

Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger assert in the Theory of Situated Learning that societal interaction in a more natural scene is important for effectual acquisition. ‘We Can Make Better ‘ is a undertaking launched in June 2009 that involved 168 largely first-year pupils in the class Philippine Society and Culture at the University of Asia and the Pacific. Students were tasked to pull off their several categories like they would the Philippines if given a opportunity. Hence, pupils were assigned duties in the different sectors of wellness, touristry, and media, among others. The undertaking involved activities such as foreign dealingss, statute law, and investing and budget direction. At the terminal of the class, pupils drafted an alternate roadmap for each sector with aid from industry experts and off-campus battles and interaction with citizens. The pilot stage, concluded in April 2010, saw encouraging consequences and challenges that are being evaluated for the undertaking ‘s following stage.

Keywords: situated acquisition, immersive technique, civic instruction

The writer would wish to admit her PhilSoc pupils for AY 2009-2010 for assisting form the undertaking and doing it a comparative success.


Third classs in citizenship, society, and civilization in the Philippines are largely conducted via traditional schoolroom talks and supplemented by undertakings in the signifiers of, among others, docudramas, trips to heritage sites, and cultural activities. Although civic instruction in the state looks comprehensive on paper, viz. its course of study and structured execution, the attack to its existent application leaves much to be desired.

To turn to the apparently lacklustre attack to civic instruction in Philippine schools, several undertakings have been initiated by assorted organisations in an effort to beef up consciousness and engagement among the young person. Noteworthy attempts are coming from the Philippine Center for Civic Education and Democracy ( PCCED ) that conducts a modified, country-specific activity called Project Citizen on a regular footing. The undertaking was ab initio developed through the collaborative attempts of the Center for Civic Education in the U.S. and the University of Asia and the Pacific in 2000. Similarly, the Ateneo School of Government ( ASoG ) has been spearheading Pugadlawin, a plan that offers civic instruction preparation to immature Filipinos and promotes effectual democratic engagement. Both PCCED and ASoG conduct several other undertakings and plans to complement the direction of civic instruction and citizenship surveies. For the authorities ‘s portion, the freshly installed National Service Training Program ( NSTP ) is being implemented in colleges and universities as a constituent of a more holistic attack to advance “ civic-consciousness and defence readiness in the young person ” as stated in RA 9163 signed into jurisprudence by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2002.

Despite these attempts, sentiments about the state ‘s hapless civic civilization have been voiced out by perceivers and experts. During one of the one-year seminars sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines in 2005, American diplomats opined that the snail-paced advancement in the state could be attributed chiefly to its unequal civic instruction that consequences in the absence of an active and participative people. Although many factors can take to a disengaged population, I to the full agree that the deficiency of an effectual civic instruction in Philippine schools remains the biggest hinderance in set uping a competitory border among the state ‘s citizens.

To turn to this job, the writer proposes an attack to civic instruction that involves the active engagement of pupils in pull offing the personal businesss of the province ( a elaborate treatment of the mechanics is presented in the latter portion of this paper ) through the undertaking called We Can Make Better. The writer will show findings from the pilot stage of this immersive undertaking specifically designed for tertiary-level pupils which this writer conceptualized with important input from the pupils. The undertaking is presently in its exploratory phase since being introduced during the first semester of the 2009-2010 academic twelvemonth and is being developed with aid from pupils who took the class Philippine Society and Culture at the University of Asia and the Pacific ( UA & A ; P ) .

Theoretical Model:

Situated Learning

The We Can Make Better undertaking was conceptualized out of the pupils ‘ demand for a more comprehensive attack to understanding Philippine society and civilization. Opinions gathered from the pupils point to a common sentiment that rests on the insufficiency of attacks used in learning civic-related topics during their secondary instruction. The primary ailment was that instruction was to a great extent textbook- and classroom-based – excessively proficient and could non easy be related to real-life state of affairss and issues.

This classroom-based attack, harmonizing to Handley, et Al. ( 2006 ) , is the focal point of the review of Situated Learning Theory that argues against the impression that larning inside the schoolroom is every bit effectual as larning in the communities of pattern. The thought of located larning remainders on the belief that acquisition is stronger when it goes beyond the mere transmittal of abstract information to the existent “ co-construction ” of cognition that should take topographic point in an existent physical and societal context ( Lave & A ; Wenger, 1991 ) . Therefore, larning must affect active engagement that calls for the honing of accomplishments at the same clip they are being applied particularly since there is a demand to interact with the environment.

In footings of the theory ‘s application to direction, several surveies have found that situated larning attack may be used as a theoretical account of direction ( Griffin, 1995 ; Young, 1993 ) . Furthermore, it views larning as 1 ) can non be separated from an person ‘s individuality and engagement, 2 ) able to take part in different signifiers, and 3 ) “ the reproduction and development of communities of pattern ” ( Clancey, 1995 ) .

For the intent of this survey, the Situated Learning theory is referred to in the instance of the immersive undertaking to show how acquisition may go more effectual when facilitated through exposure to the communities of engagement.

“ We Can Make Better ” : An Immersive Undertaking

The undertaking was launched as a constituent of the civic instruction class, Philippine Society and Culture ( PhilSoc ) , at UA & A ; P. The class was offered by the Institute of Political Economy ( IPE ) to first-year pupils as an debut to the citizenship course of study of the university. PhilSoc is a class that offers the direction of the history, features, and maps of different societal establishments in line with the doctrine of the university on the relationship between, chiefly, adult male and God, adult male and the society, and the society and God in the context of Filipino civilization.

As antecedently mentioned, the demand to come up with an immersive and situated technique to the attack of civic instruction came from the pupils ‘ desire to to the full understand the class by traveling beyond prescribed readings and by using theories in existent life. Therefore, this writer and advocate of the undertaking came up with the initial mechanics of the undertaking that were farther honed from the experiences of the pupils and other personalities who were invited to fall in. The external participants were members of the university: module, disposal, non-teaching forces, and other pupils non enrolled in the class.

The chief aim of the undertaking is to plunge the participants by leting them to take on functions of determination shapers in the different societal establishments in the Philippines. Each subdivision was designated as a “ state ” which the participants had to pull off for the whole semester.

The undertaking was conducted, at its pilot stage, during the two semesters of the academic twelvemonth 2009-2010. By the first semester of 2011-2012, the IPE will get down offering the class to sophomore pupils ( freshers of 2010-2011 ) .

Goal of the Undertaking

The undertaking was designed to give the participants an avenue to decode for themselves what works and what does n’t in the current state of affairs of the Philippines. The inquiry given to them was, “ If you were given a opportunity, what would you make to better the state? ”

Interestingly, following a strict research and brainstorming, the pupils answered: “ We Can Make Better ” . Thus, the new undertaking name was adopted to replace the simple, “ State Undertaking ” .

Mechanicss of the Undertaking

Making a State

Participants were tasked to make a state that would come close the features of the Philippines. This included the undermentioned conditions:

Participants must make a state profile that is similar to the profile of the Philippines: geographics, signifier of authorities, economic system, to call a few.

The state ( province ) must hold the same constructions found in the different societal establishments of the Philippines viz. , authorities, instruction, faith, household, economic system, and political relations. The undertaking specified these establishments into sectors such as wellness, touristry, media, foreign personal businesss, defence, and commercialism, among others.

Each state must get down with a national budget of One Billion in its ain currency adjusted to the current value of the Philippine peso.

State functionaries must be elected similar to the electoral system of the Philippines.

Participants must ask for people to go their citizens.

The two states competed with each other in luring others to be citizens of their several states by showing them with the state profile, schemes and benefits for investing and benefits of going a citizen. Each citizen was besides provided with “ start-up ” money for future investings out of the national budget.

A 3rd party, in the signifier of the World Bank, is available to supply loans to both states.

Research Component

To complement schoolroom direction, participants were required to carry on farther research on the different sectors in the Philippines. They were required, for case, to research the maps of the executive, legislative, and judicial. Furthermore, they were besides required to research the procedures, systems, and current tendencies and issues pertinent to the different sectors.

This involved both literature research and audience with bookmans and industry/sector experts.

Pull offing the State

The Congress and the Department of Budget would assign budget to each sector of the state, mirroring the budget allotment system in the Philippines.

In order to reimburse the national budget, the state would come up with undertakings to lure their citizens to put. Furthermore, both states were allowed to ask for “ foreign investors ” by fliping their undertakings to the citizens of the other state.


Participants, specifically the president of the state, were required to form and present a State of the Nation Address ( SONA ) for each month to update the citizens of the advancement and jobs of the state.

Each state was required to come up with and put to death at least three community undertakings either on- or off-campus for the intents of community engagement and exposure to real-life jobs in the Philippines.

Each state was required to ask for at least three industry/sector experts to present talks on campus.

At the terminal of the undertaking, pupils were required to pull up an option sector roadmap turn toing the failings of the current direction of the Philippines and the solutions they believe can work out the failings. This was made possible through the aid of bookmans and experts both in and outside the university who were consulted by the pupils.

Participants of the Study

First semester: The Pioneer Group

The first two subdivisions involved in the undertaking were instrumental in developing the thought of the immersive technique through their experiences put to deathing the undertaking and their extended research.

Main Fictional characters

Sixty-eight fresher pupils divided into two subdivisions participated during the launch of the undertaking. They were the “ chief characters ” in the undertaking who managed the two states and the community undertakings.


About one hundred “ citizens ” from members of UA & A ; P joined the undertaking and helped the pupils with their research and deliverables. Citizens came from the module, disposal, non-teaching forces, and some members of the clergy, and other pupils non enrolled in the class.


Students were encouraged to seek advice from industry/sector experts, module members, friends, and relations in coming up with undertakings and in pull offing the states. These advisors were neither citizens nor external participants.

External participants

Peoples who indirectly helped develop the undertaking include receivers of different communities chosen for the outreach plans organized by the pupils and industry/sector experts who were invited as invitee lectors.

Second Semester: The Follow-through Group

One hundred pupils participated in the 2nd portion of the pilot stage. There were three classes/sections during the 2nd semester so the 2nd stage welcomed a 3rd state into the undertaking.

Two subdivisions merely carried out what the old two states started. For case, they used the same state profiles, citizens, and they executed pending undertakings left by the innovator group. The follow-through group, nevertheless, did non get down with one billion in national budget ; they started with the sum left by the innovator group. They besides came up with new community undertakings.

Project Locale

The chief venue of the undertaking was at the University of Asia and the Pacific campus. Secondary venue was off-campus in the different communities where the community outreach undertakings were held.

Undertaking Result/Output

Three states were created for the undertaking: Terramagnus, The Parliamentary Republic of Jaratungkabart, and The Republic of Konigsburg.

An Overview of the States


At the terminal of the semester, the state ‘s first disposal was able to put to death two of its community outreach undertakings: The Plant-A-Crop Project and the Feed It which were conducted in Binangonan, Rizal and at the Pangarap Learning Center in Payatas, Quezon City.

The timing of the undertakings coincided with Typhoon Ondoy therefore, lending to the national catastrophe alleviation attempts of the Filipino authorities and other organisations. Terramagnus similarly invited a invitee talker who delivered a talk about universe population at the university.

The state had 23 citizens who invested a sum of 103,980,000 Freis ( F ; the official currency ) . Entire foreign investing was F24 million which gave the state a shutting budget of F1,012,980,000.

The 2nd disposal continued to put to death several noteworthy community outreach plans such as the Sagip Foundation and the Terrelief Project in partnership with the ABS-CBN Foundation. Bothe undertakings were held at the ABS-CBN Kapamilya Warehouse. At the terminal of the 2nd semester, the national budget was F1.1 billion.

The Parliamentary Republic of Jaratungkabart

Jaratungkabart made a bold move of experimenting with a parliamentary signifier of authorities in nearing the Filipino civilization. It is of import to observe that the first disposal of the state suggested that they wanted to research how it would be like for the Philippines to hold a different signifier of authorities and this was a welcome challenge in the undertaking.

The state had 28 citizens at the terminal of the semester with a entire investing of 58 million Baryas ( the functionary currency ) and a concluding national budget of 104 million after outgos. The experimental authorities focused its attempts on beef uping touristry to better the economic system. So much so that it fell short of community outreach plans and interaction with industry/sector experts. It did good though in its foreign dealingss.

The 2nd disposal, nevertheless, were more active in forming off-campus community outreach plans such as Jaratungkabart ‘s Book Drive at the Maybunga Elementary School in Pasig City and Freedom Wall at UA & A ; P.

They likewise made great paces in ask foring industry/sector experts to present talks through the forum, Smart Youth in Action Forum: A Forum on Money, Liberal Education, and Civic Action that included talks from two experts. Picking up from the first disposal ‘s success at foreign dealingss, the Tombola Festival, an international concern exhibition was organized to promote all three states to exhibit their native merchandises. The exhibition was held in Barangay San Antonio in Pasig City and participated in by occupants of the barangay and the citizens of the states.

The Republic of Konigsburg

The youngest state to be created was besides the most aggressive and active state during the 2nd semester. It organized an international dealingss activity to present itself to and hammer ties with the two states through the Olympic Games: Schoolympics 2010 held on campus.

For their community outreach plan, the state held a instruction activity in catechism and English for kids from low-income household in Marikina City. The state similarly donated goods to the White Cross Orphanage in San Juan with the end of exposing themselves to the predicament of what they called “ societal minorities ” .

For their interaction with experts, the state invited a invitee talker who conducted a seminar on the Filipino Society: How Corruption Affects You held at UA & A ; P. Furthermore, the state organized several off- and on-campus undertakings that were largely successful.

At the terminal of the 2nd semester, the national budget was 1.56 Billion Galleon ( the functionary currency ) . The state managed the budget rather good and even donated to the Magnites ( people of Terramagnus ) who were affected ( albeit fictional ) by two lay waste toing typhoons.

Findingss of the Study

Datas gathered for this survey came from the rating of the pupils on the undertaking and from the participant observation conducted by this research worker. Four subjects came out conspicuously in the rating: the construct of the undertaking, its feasibleness, the value of the undertaking, and lessons learned.

On the Concept of the Undertaking

Initial reactions to the undertaking ranged from confusion, incredulity, and obfuscation to exhilaration and enthusiasm. At one point, one category about opted for a written undertaking until it was explained to them that they were portion of the pilot stage and that they were to develop the mechanics as they went along.

In the rating, many pupils stated that the construct of the undertaking was something new and to a great extent prosecuting – something that they have non experienced prior to taking the PhilSoc class. However, there were besides those who suggested that the mechanics and regulations of the undertaking must be to the full established before execution to avoid confusion in the executing. Furthermore, others felt that it was excessively complicated and that the deliverables were “ impossible to carry through ” .

The initial phases of the undertaking were really disputing particularly for the innovator group. This research worker observed that misinterpretations and battles ensued among the pupils because of differences in sentiments on and readings of how the undertaking was supposed to be conducted. The research worker was merely consulted about unsolved issues and worked at the fringe to promote the pupils to hone their problem-solving accomplishments by covering with the issues and jobs themselves.

Still, many stated that at the decision of the undertaking, they realized how hard it must be for authorities functionaries to run the state and at the same clip covering with different personalities.

On the Feasibility of the Undertaking

Lack of clip was the most common observation of the pupils. This is possibly because the mechanics and organisation of the undertaking were non yet to the full established and seeking to calculate the undertaking out took the most clip during the semester.

Inviting guest talkers and forming community outreach plans were peculiarly disputing on top of carry oning separate plans on campus.

On the bright side, pupils stated that with proper coordination, clip direction, and a more effectual teamwork, several plans may be successfully implemented in one semester.

The Value of the Undertaking

Many pupils stated that the undertaking so made them appreciate and understand real-life state of affairss in the Philippines particularly when they had to form plans themselves with really small intercession from the class teacher. It besides honed their organisation, dialogue, and direction accomplishments to the point that they ‘ve noticed how it made them more mature after the semester.

By doing the undertaking interactive, non merely within each subdivision but with other subdivisions as good, pupils shared that the undertaking fostered chumminesss among their batch faster than, possibly, if the class was approached through a traditional direction.

The pupils ( particularly the innovator group ) besides felt proud that they were assisting in the conceptualisation of a instruction technique and that they had a certain step of control over how they wanted to larn in the class.

Social exposure was besides outstanding in the rating. The pupils appreciated the chance to interact with industry/sector experts because it helped them larn how to near them and flip thoughts during their first-year twelvemonth. The duty they had to transport to do certain that they represented the university good when covering with experts and members of the outside community was good appreciated by the pupils. Furthermore, the chance to form outreach plans, all on their ain, provided them with the rough worlds of the jobs in the Philippines.

On the downside, there have been ailments sing pupils who did non take part or did non carry through their functions efficaciously for a host of grounds.

On Lessons Learned

The most common realisation among the pupils is that running a state is non every bit easy as they antecedently thought – being mere perceivers of the personal businesss of the State. At the beginning of the class, the most blazing remark from the pupils was that the Filipino authorities was merely one thing – corrupt. This very impression was what triggered the pupils in the first topographic point to state, “ We Can Make Better ” . At the undertaking ‘s decision, the pupils came to recognize that so many factors contribute to how the Philippines is managed at nowadays.

Some pupils ( those in higher places ) besides realized that pull offing a group of people was non an easy undertaking. Differences in sentiments, background, and adaptability among schoolmates were major obstructions in carry oning the undertaking. To this terminal, they stated that enforcing thoughts on people would non make anyone any good. For case, eight citizens from the first Terramagnus defected to Jaratungkabart when the tenseness and misinterpretations, ab initio addressed through duologue, were merely excessively great to work out.

Most significantly, the pupils developed their analytical and critical accomplishments when covering with different issues in the state. So much so that many became more media literate as they tried to decode media messages and how intelligence is presented in local documents as a consequence of the needed research constituent of the undertaking.


The undertaking started as a simple experiment to come up with an alternate attack to civic instruction. It may be said that get downing from abrasion did non come easy to both the advocate of the undertaking and the pupils. It was so really disputing to flip such a undertaking to the external participants because many inquiries were raised sing the range, the end, and the purpose of the undertaking. The pilot stage proved that turning strivings are so painful. For an ambitious undertaking such as this, the challenges became greater than the outlooks set during initial conceptualisation. But as with any new enterprise, letdowns are really common.

In the instance of “ We Can Make Better ” , the most common sentiment we received from external participants was that the undertaking was rather interesting and relevant as its format facilitated heavy interaction with and engagement of many in the UA & A ; P community and the society. In other words, this attack to civic instruction is a move beyond the four walls of the schoolroom because the engagement of the bigger society outside school is important for effectual acquisition.

It interesting to observe here that innovator group, after the first semester, went on to back up the follow-through group by go toing the SONA held by each caput of province, assisting the new disposal, and proposing plans.

Overall, the undertaking holds a great potency that can be maximized through collaborative planning among bookmans, pupils, and other experts. The undertaking, with the experiences of the participants, is slated to be published as a book in 2011.

July 12, 2017