Comparison of High School Curriculum in the East and West

by AsianLadyAbroad


After five months of no school I finally started on the 8th of September but as a high school student…again. Why I did it ? So I could get accepted in universities abroad that requires an A-level standard. Now you guys would start wondering and be like, ‘What is she saying, that’s standard! Like duh?’ But because I’m a Filipina that’s not standard.

Before you react, my country has only adapted the world standard education last 2012. And when I say ‘world standard’ I mean by K-12. I know. I am the third to the last batch (SY 2012-2013) that has and will ever undergo year 10 graduation. So instead of being a sour grape and be like ‘why now!’ my parents decided to let me study in a school that caters 11-12 or AS-level and A2-Level classes. (Why so many names!?) At first I strongly opposed the possibility of going back to high school especially after graduating. I mean like hello! My high school ‘mindset’ has obviously worn off. I literally had my mind on the bigger thing- university.


Coming up with this realisation was hard, it wasn’t something that I was proud of in the beginning. I received comments and judgement from parents who also became our friends. One said that I was wasting my time here when I should’ve started university along with my classmates in the Philippines. He even scoffed at the things my mother said when she explained why we all decided to continue my college abroad (talk about manners).


I mean the way he reacted was as if we were doing something that will jeopardise my entire future. Number one, my whole family won’t allow that to happen and number two, I myself won’t allow that to happen. So stop judging and eat a chill pill. Understand too that after graduation my classmates and I are facing our respective path ways of success. Because of the non stop negative reactions I received it became the cause of my slight depression and temporary insecurity 5 months ago.

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Going to the malls, restaurants and even buying groceries at a dollar shop felt like I was about face a crowd of panel judges ready to tamper on my positive mindset. But one day after the ‘talk’ I had with the parents I was suddenly reminded of what I really dreamt and wanted from the start. And that is to expose myself in a different kind of level of independency while studying abroad.

Since I’m one who worries alot about things that shouldn’t be worried about, in order to have a clearer insight and stop stressing about how this all goes, two days before classes started I asked my former classmate in the know about this a-level chuchuness (asian lady abroad slang for etc./things/stuff) .

As expected, I didn’t digest everything she explained. I was all ‘ahs’, ‘ohs’, ‘really’ ‘mmm’ and feigned understanding when in reality I was confused and flustered all at the same time. Simply because Philippine curriculum is different from the British so the terms she used sounded technical to me. LOL.

Looking back when I thought the process was all confusing I slowly realised that my nervousness and new-girl-on-the-block dilemma clouded my mind. Because in reality, the whole thing’s really simple for example, you have the freedom to choose subjects based on the university where you’ll be applying.

Thankfully the lessons that were taught in class were almost like a review (which gave me more hope and more self-esteem) of what I had in my former school, specifically math. Feeling quite surprised, I browsed my book further just to be sure that the teacher wasn’t just ‘revising’ grade 10 lessons and when I was positive, I felt incredibly excited-to top the math class. (I know! I myself can’t believe what I’ve just written. This is all thanks to my maths teacher who never gave up teaching us the lessons we used to think will never matter during college).

I mean like, having at least 5 long quizzes, all from your major subjects, the following day plus a unit test (also from a major subject) was normal. Plus we at the high school level go home at 4pm everyday giving us one complete hour for a subject (ever since intermediate level). Sometimes even later than that. So I guess that would be an understatement as to how I know some of the lessons in those next chapters in the book.tumblr_mt12nd1nvN1si5v2yo4_250

Which makes me wonder right now, why in the world is the Philippine Curriculum not accepted around the world when actually most people prefer Filipino employees in their team….

Honestly, up till now I wonder how I’ve managed to survive such extreme stuff back in PSSO most especially my classmates who manage to ‘reach the apex’ of the batch. Not that I wasn’t one of them, modesty aside, hardehar.

Which makes me think again…What more those people in the Philippines who’s my age going home at 6 or 7? (Just ohmagosh!) Because seriously, going home late and on top of that having to face so many tests the next day is flat out exhausting…

However, as much as it sounds stressful and bizarre, I really miss it more than anything. I miss being pushed to the limits and getting crazy. I miss imagining myself being absent the next day just in case I don’t finish the project I was doing at 2 am. I miss hovering over the dining table with my parents figuring out how to solve a problem. I even remember muttering exasperated words whenever I was doing some home activity that usually takes me until the wee hours of the night. Why? Because I wasn’t finished yet and I still had to tackle two more!

As well as those days when I needed to carry a bag back and a lunch box with additional 4 baggages that contains my PE shirt, extra clothes, practice dresses and project materials such as cardboard, clay, batteries, light bulbs. Actually there’s this inside joke in school, the heavier the bags you carry the more responsible the student is while the more bags you carry, the more reliable that student is.

The pressure to be a good student, the stress of not failing, the worry of not answering assignments in Physics, math, english, economics even music, health, art and P.E! And Filipino! Just oh my gosh Filipino! Because when I don’t, I know in my heart that I will be bothered by my subconscious mind that already developed an excellent skill on how to make me feel guilty when I only finished answering half or two of my assignments makes nostalgic and sad at the same time.

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Growing up with so many things stuffed on us at the first week of the school year was so mundane that attending this new school was quite a shock and a breath of fresh air as well.

In this new school that I’m attending to, homework’s aren’t graded, everyday we go home at 2pm sometimes if we’re lucky with a free subject before the last period we can go home immediately. We get to have so many free periods too because you only choose subjects connected to the program you’ll be taking in your university. In these free periods you’re able to either enjoy or review. Since I had so many free subjects with only four classes to concentrate on I felt extremely liberated.

Through this experience of me studying in a different school, I observe that a school that’s eastern-ised inside and out is much rigid compared to a school that follows a westernised curriculum. No wonder we thought our non-Filipino classmates to be quite lax and lenient when it comes to studies. The pressure to learn and understand the lessons aren’t forced as much as it was in my previous school. It’s just really up to you. Not only do you solely focus with the academics, you also get the chance to focus on extra curricular chuchuness.

In the end as I further submerge myself into a new kind of learning system, I really hope I’ll be able to apply my eastern-ised approach in studying to the westernised educational system. In other words, develop versatility despite the unfamiliar playground of which I am facing.