Background of the Study
In relation to the goal of Philippine political and economic development and social cohesiveness, there is a growing clamor to revisit and revive nationalism. In the Philippines, it has been recognized that the issue of nationalism is important in education. One of the goals of the Education Act of 1982 that serves as a guideline for elementary education, is to "promote and intensify the child's knowledge of identification with, and love for the nation and the people to which he belongs" (Department of Education, 2002, p.2). This objective is also hinged on the 1987 Constitution Article XIV, Section 3 (2) that states that the school "shall inculcate patriotism and nationalism, foster love of humanity, respect for human rights, appreciation of the role of national heroes in the historical development of the country, teach the rights and duties of citizenship, strengthen ethical and spiritual values, develop moral character and personal discipline, encourage critical and creative thinking, broaden scientific and technological knowledge, and promote vocational efficiency" (1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, Department of Education, 2002, p.2).
As agents of patriotism and nationalism, the school is mandated to cultivate pagka-Filipino in children. In compliance with the1987 Constitution and the Education Act of 1982, the Department of Education came up with the following objectives for the elementary education formal curriculum: (1) inculcation of spiritual and civic values and the development of a good Filipino based on an abiding faith in God and genuine love of country; (2) training of the young citizen in his rights, duties and responsibilities in a democratic society for active participation in a progressive and productive home and community life; (3) development of basic understanding about Philippine culture, the desirable tradition and virtues of our people as essential requisites in attaining national consciousness and solidarity (Department of Education, 2002, p.1-2).
Moreover, the K to 12 Philippine Basic Education Curriculum also reflects the significance of teaching pagka-Filipino based on the Department of Education's curriculum guide. One of the desired outcomes of the implementation of the Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) is to develop learners who take pride in their cultural heritage and are proud to be Filipinos. In the National Early Learning Framework (NELF), the Filipino child is considered as the most important asset of our county. The NELF firmly believes that the Filipino child is "a human being who loves God, parents, and country, is proud to be a Filipino, honors the customs, traditions and good values of the people, knows his/her basic rights, respects other cultures and is able to live in peace and harmony with all" (Department of Education, 2012, p.3). As early as kindergarten, pagiging maka-Filipino or a national consciousness of being a Filipino is cultivated in the children, with the hope that this will lead to ardent nationalism, love of country and pride as a Filipino.
The importance of teaching nationalism and national identity in the early grades has been established and promoted by the state and state institutions such as school and the Department of Education. However, a study on national identity among urban school children by Doronila (1986) showed that Filipino children favor other countries over their own, and this preference deepens as they mature. A similar study was also conducted among 3rd year High School students in Baguio City by Herrera and Robias (2010), and the findings revealed that although "respondents exhibit a positive preference for things Filipino, these preferences have not yet been lifted to a level of consciousness that would make their manifestation of such personal preferences as expressive of their identity as Filipino, or as charters of national identity" (Herrera & Robias, 2010, p.67). This suggests that national identity among Filipino youth is superficial. According to Yacat (2002), there are two kinds of pagka-Filipino: Filipino by name which is shallow and Filipino by heart which is deeply-rooted. He further stressed the importance of the family where culture and Filipino identity take root and of the school which nurtures the idea of pagka-Filipino.
Koh (2010) emphasized that it is during childhood that an individual starts to identify with the nation. She declared that "childhood experience is commonly taken to be the bedrock upon which self-identity is built, and national consciousness is regarded by many as a key foundation of a modern person's identity" (Koh, 2010, p.1). Furthermore, she saw the need for studies on how children perceive national identity. She stated "children should be central to the study of national feeling, place-belonging, and citizenship. And yet, we do not know a great deal about how school-age children actually do relate to the idea of nation" (Koh, 2010, p.2).
The assertion of Koh (2010) and the studies by Doronila, Herrera and Robias, and Yacat presented two crucial issues: (1) superficial national identification among Filipinos and (2) lack of studies on national identity and childhood.
This research seeks to address these two problems by focusing on early graders and their perspectives of "pagka-Filipino." In Vygotsky's social development theory (Ormrod, 2011), the child learns concepts through language and action. He asserts that development is connected to social context and that the child's developmental level should complement his learning. Hedges (2012) explained further that "during the early childhood years, Vygotsky believed that everyday concepts were most prominent. According to Vygotsky, "Everyday concepts emerged from children's thinking about their daily experiences; that is, they occur spontaneously in the context of normal participation in family and community practices and activities" (Hedges, 2012, P.145). By probing how children in the early grades perceive and construct their identity as Filipinos in the context of their everyday experiences, policy makers, teacher educators, curriculum developers, and early grades teachers will gain greater insight into how the concept of national identity and nationalism take root in every Filipino child. The children's perspectives will improve the K to 12 Philippine Basic Education Curriculum and its implementation.
This study also investigates the perspectives of "pagka-Filipino" of early graders, based on locally-published picture books. This will hopefully add another dimension to the pedagogical aspect that can be gained from the children's perspectives. Hillman (2003) described the picture book as the child's gateway to the world, the first step outside the child's immediate environment. "The precise combination of art and words is a powerful experience because it triggers the imagination & introduces concepts for cognitive and language development" (Hillman, 2003, p.89). Aquino (2009) said that children's literature activates the schema of the child and presents vicarious experiences that encourage cognitive processes such as assimilation and accommodation. Piaget's stages of cognitive development (Ormrod, 2011) show that as a child matures, he/she assimilates and accommodates knowledge, acquiring schemas through experience. Like building blocks, a child can create a castle by adding a block with every bit of information learned. The existing blocks are used to widen the child's body of knowledge. These blocks form the child's schema and schema can be influenced by social and cultural experiences and interactions with text and illustrations found in picture books.
Children learn by constructing their own knowledge. Carlsson-Paige (2001) states that "children actively construct meaning for themselves. These meanings, unique to each child, are embedded in family and culture and are built over time" (Carlsson-Paige, 2001, p.17). She further claims that through stories, children can build new meanings by referring to their personal meanings and experiences. Picture books are effective material to find out in concrete terms the "pagka-Filipino" of early graders. How the children perceive the words and images in the picture book that depict "pagka-Filipino" will enrich the concept of "pagka-Filipino" itself. The Filipino icons in the text and illustrations in picture books are concrete items that children can identify with. Through this study, early graders specifically Grade 1 and Grade 2 children will be engaged in defining "pagka-Filipino" according to their perspectives and in their own words. By sitting down and talking with the children themselves, knowledge will be gained on how they shape and restructure the concept of national identity.
This research attempted to fill the gap of the study on national identity and perspectives of early graders based on picture books and their experiences. Drawing from Koh's statement that it is through "everyday living experiences that the children experience the nation" (Koh, 2010, p. 174) and following Vygotsky's claim that "everyday concepts emerged from children's thinking about their daily experiences; that is, they occur spontaneously in the context of normal participation in family and community practices and activities" (Hedges, 2012, P.145), it can be deduced that the everyday arena is important in the child's formation of the concept of "pagka-Filipino"Â as supported by Almario and Almario (2009) specifically on Filipino games and further, by Koh (2010) on habituated routines. Therefore, it can be assumed that everyday experiences and concrete materials surrounding the child's routines such as games, food, clothes, animals, famous people, things commonly used and activities often engaged in, are important domains to investigate in this study.
Cook, G. and Cook, J. (2009) also stressed "that socialization and differential experiences play roles in gender differences" and this affects children's perspectives (Cook, G. & Cook, J., 2009, p. 362). Comparing the similarities and differences in the early graders' responses by gender and grade level will provide new layers on the children's insights on "pagka-Filipino."
- The objectives of this research were:
- To probe how children in the early grades perceive and construct their identity as Filipinos in the context of their everyday experiences.
- To investigate the perspectives of "pagka-Filipino" of early graders, based on the text and illustrations of locally-published picture books.
- To broaden way of understanding the children's construction and definition of "pagka-Filipino" according to their perspectives and in their own words.
- To compare the early graders' perspectives of "pagka-Filipino" by gender and grade level.
- Statement of the Problem
Specifically, this research sought to answer the following questions:
- What are the urban low-income children's perspectives of pagka-Filipino based on their experiences?
- What are the urban low-income children's perspectives of pagka-Filipino based on the text of picture books?
Significance of the Study
The results of the study will hopefully aid the Department of Education's curriculum division and the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts in developing a National Cultural Education Plan that will bring about appreciation of our culture, genuine love for our county and our pride in being a Filipino.
It is also the hope of this study to raise the consciousness of publishers, writers, and illustrators to inculcate nationalism and Filipino pride in their published stories and other forms of literature for the early grades.
This study of young learners' perspectives of Pagka-Filipino and its depiction in picture books may be useful to our early grades teachers as a benchmark or yardstick on national identity formation and the corresponding interventions. Hopefully, it will also help educators in modifying their curriculum and teaching strategies based on what children know about our nation and their perspectives of being a Filipino.
The research will also provide new directions for further studies that can be explored related to this topic.
Furthermore, the study aims for the enhancement of the Teacher Education Instruction, especially Teaching in the Early Grades, Early Childhood Education, and other related programs, through growing emphasis on nationalism in their curriculum so that our future teachers will inculcate love of country in Filipino children as early as the early grades.
Scope and Delimitation of the Study
The study is descriptive in nature and focused on early graders belonging to low-families as identified by the National Statistical Coordination Board. The research sample is composed of forty (40) Grade 1 and Grade 2 students residing in two barangays in Quezon City. The primary data gathering method used was interview to determine the children's perspectives of Pagka-Filipino based on their experiences and through their interactions with ten (10) locally-published picture books written by Filipino authors. This research used purposive and convenience sampling in which an equal representation for gender and grade level among the respondents was applied. The gathered data were analyzed using frequency distribution and coding. Verbatim quotes from the respondents were used.
The research data was based on interview of early grades children based on their experiences and interaction with selected picture books. It focused on gender and grade level as variables in interpreting their perspectives of pagka-Filipino.
The study is delimited to a group of Grade 1 and Grade 2 children coming from a socially-disadvantaged group in an urban area. Perspectives on "pagka-Filipino" is delimited to early graders'
everyday experiences on games Filipino children play, food Filipino children eat, clothes Filipino children wear, animals in the Philippines they know, famous Filipinos they know, things Filipino children use and activities Filipino children engage in;
interactions with the text and illustration of selected picture books.
In this research, Filipino icons were delimited to those identified by the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts' Essential Knowledge on Philippine Arts, Culture and Heritage for the Basic Education Curriculum (EKPACHBEC) for Grade 1 and 2 (See Appendix A) and Adarna House's 101 Filipino Icons Volumes I and II (2007, 2009). According to Wright (1998), there exists a politicization of "culture" wherein "there is a political process of contestation over the power to define key concepts, including that of 'culture' itself" (Wright, 1998, p.14). In this case, the researcher is aware of the politics involved in the identification of Filipino icons by a state institution and a commercial publisher.
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE AND CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
This chapter is divided into the review of related literature and studies, the conceptual framework and definition of terms. The review of related literature discusses Schema Theory and Vygotsky's Social Development Theory on which the study is anchored on, and the pertinent studies on children regarding (1) schema theory/culture schemata; (2) national identity and pagka-Filipino; (3) national identity among early grades children; (4) children's literature, storytelling, and national identity; (5) picture books; (6) picture books and pagka-Filipino; and (7) gender and picture books.
Piaget is the proponent of schema theory (Ormrod, 2011). He said that as a child matures, he/she assimilates and accommodates knowledge, acquiring schemata through experience. Like building blocks, a child can create a castle by adding a block with every bit of information learned. The existing blocks are used to widen the child's body of knowledge. These blocks form the child's schema and schema can be influenced by social and cultural experiences and interactions with text and illustrations found in picture books. In Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development, children from two to seven years old belong to the preoperational stage and can already express themselves and describe the world through words and images.
R.C. Anderson (Widmayer, 2003 in Lee & Tsai, 2004), an educational psychologist, expanded the schema theory which proposes that our understanding or knowledge of the world is composed of organized network of abstract mental structures. Widmayer (2003), added that schema is used to interpret and predict situations (in Lee & Tsai, 2004). It was further proposed that each person possesses a unique set of schema which is built from the individual's cognitive processes and experiences (Lee & Tsai, 2004).
Based on the schema theory, Lee and Tsai (2004) further suggest that individuals learn or acquire knowledge in three ways: accretation, tuning, and restructuring. Accretation involves assimilating new information into existing schema without any changes to overall schema. Tuning, on the other hand, entails modification of existing schema when it is inadequate for the encountered new information/knowledge, while restructuring involves creating a new schema for situations wherein there is inconsistency between the new information/knowledge and the old schema. Accretion is parallel to Piaget's assimilation while tuning and restructuring are similar to accommodation.
McVee, Dunsmore & Gayelek (2005), in a review of schema theory, indicated that schema theory was particularly prominent in the 1970s especially on the role of schema in reading, adding that the focus shifted to sociocultural theories in the 80s and 90s. The authors further pointed out the importance of the schema theory, particularly its utility in understanding the individual's prior knowledge and its role in comprehension and in understanding the reading process.
Social Development Theory
In Vygotsky's Social Development Theory, engaging in social practice plays a critical role in the development of the child. Through socialization, children construct their own knowledge, form concepts, and actively find meaning to make sense of the world. It is a fundamental form of learning and cognition; consciousness is the result of interaction with other people within a shared experience.
In this shared socio-cultural context, children use tools within a culture, such as signs, symbols, and language, to function in the social environment. "Children assimilate language-a ready-made product of socio-historical development-and use it to analyze, generalize, and encode experience" (Luriia, 1976, p. 9). Gleaning from Vygotsky's semantic and system structure of consciousness, Luriia states that words are the "fundamental units of consciousness reflecting the external world" (Luriia, 1976, p. 9).
Vygotsky believed that "concept formation is rooted in the use of words which acquire different meanings at successive stages of development" (Luriia, 1976, p. 50). It is interesting to note how Vygotsky described the thinking process of a child. At first, the child thinks by remembering but when he/she reaches adolescence, he/she remembers by thinking. According to Luriia, this is because an adolescent "no longer generalizes on the basis of his immediate impressions but isolates certain distinct attributes of objects as the basis of categorization" (1976, p. 52). This illustrates the movement from social to individual consciousness, a consciousness that is shaped and enriched by the child's participation in the society.
Hedges (2012) explained further that "during the early childhood years, Vygotsky believed that everyday concepts were most prominent. According to Vygotsky, "Everyday concepts emerged from children's thinking about their daily experiences, that is, they occur spontaneously in the context of normal participation in family and community practices and activities" (Hedges, 2012, P.145)
Studies on Schema Theory and Culture Schemata
Webster (2001) examines the effect of culture schemata on reading comprehension of ninety-six 9th Grade students in four honor classes in Maryland. He analyzes the responses of the students to multicultural stories focusing on cultural awareness along with its significance to reading, comprehension, and learning. Results reveal varying response to the stories even for those with the same cultural background because of the respondents' unique personalities and experiences. Of note are the responses of some participants who restructured their schemata to deal with new information. The respondents eventually assimilated the information from the storybooks which they initially rejected. Findings show that the participants are culturally aware and that cultural awareness aids the students in reading comprehension. However, the study is not clear on whether the similarity between the participants and the story (culture) helped them in reading it. Still, the results of the research support past studies which indicate that students tend to learn more information that are complementing or in congruence with their cultural background.
Webster (2001) recommends a wholistic approach to culture, especially in education research. He calimed that, it should cover not just ethnicity and race but also extend to the individual's age, gender, education, religion, social class, politics, physical condition, sexual orientation, nationality, and residence. Furthermore, as the students are becoming more aware of the multicultural nature of their world, teachers are encouraged to take a multicultural perspective so as to reach out to their students.
Kreishan and Saidat (2011), on the other hand, examine the impact of content schema on reading comprehension focusing on how religious and cultural schemata affect Jordanian students' comprehension of English texts. Respondents are one hundred 10th Grade Arab Muslim students randomly selected and evenly distributed based on gender. Four reading texts were used to measure reading comprehension, two of which are of the participants' culture and religion whereas the other two are of different or foreign culture and religion. Based on the results of the tests and interviews, the reading comprehension of participants tested in the familiar texts, which reflects native religion and culture, exhibited significantly higher performance. Findings indicate that cultural background can trigger schemata and improve comprehension. In light of the result, the authors recommend stimulating prior knowledge first on the subject matter before reading. Other recommendations were also mentioned such as improving texts to reflect various aspects of culture, religion, and local problems of the country; making use of the Internet to further learning and for better comprehension; and Islamicization, Jordanization, and Arabicization of English materials especially its cultural content. Further studies suggested include effect of extended time on comprehension and effect of other variables on reading comprehension such as the font of texts.
The research of Lee & Tsai (2004) explores the impact of stories on young children particularly, on how children's schema can be augmented by stories. The authors present a model to understand how stories affect quality of schemas among seven- year old children. The model suggests that there are three main sources of stories for the children: family members, teachers, and friends. The process would then involve decoding the stories and relating it with their already acquired concepts (accretating or no change to existing schemas). In cases of new knowledge, the model indicates that the new information will go through tuning (modification of existing schemas) or restructuring (forming new schemas). With children who are inquisitive and eager to learn, the model signifies that there is a higher chance of forming new schemas than modifying existing schemas among young children. The authors state that stories can enhance the quality of schemas of children and with it, the children's level of interpretation, prediction, and understanding. Thus, there is a proposal that more stories would increase the children's schemata of the world. Moreover, the authors further linked the quality of schemas to problem solving, suggesting that gaining more life experience would enhance problem solving ability.
Although cognitively, females develop verbal and language skills at a younger age and are more talkative, Cook, G. and Cook, J. (2009) stressed "that socialization and differential experiences play roles in gender differences" and this affects children's perspectives (Cook, G. & Cook, J., 2009, p. 362).
National Identity and Pagka-Filipino
In their study of national identity among high school students, Herrera and Robias cited William Bloom's definition of national identity as a "condition in which a mass of people have made the same identification with national symbols--have internalized the symbols of the nation--- so that they may act as one psychological group when there is a threat to, or the possibility of enhancement of, their symbols of national identity" (in Herrera & Robias, 2010, p.10). This coincides with Doronila's (1986) research on the meaning of Filipino national identity conducted among urban school children using a 35-item National Identity Scale (NIS) for Students. The questions were based on the four value patterns namely: (1) ethnocentrism; (2) valuing socio-historical aspects reflective of national identity; (3) loyalty to the national state beyond ethnic loyalties; (4) commitment to the role requirements of citizenship (Doronila, 1986, p.11-12). Under each value pattern are a set of orientation or attitudes that serve as defining parameters for national identity. The 16 attitudes are either essentialist or epochalist in nature, using Geertz' forms of national consciousness. Doronila agreed with Geertz that essentialist aspects of national ideologizing are the initial point of identification. The essentialist aspects are national symbols, generalized love of country, and appreciation of cultural aspects. Her findings reveal that Filipino children favor other countries over their own and this preference deepens as they mature.
Brown (2000) explains the constructivist approach to national identity. He claims that it is "constructed on the basis of institutional or ideological frameworks which offer simple and simplistic formulas of identity, and diagnoses of contemporary problems, to otherwise confused and insecure individuals" (Brown, 2000, p.20). For children, social institutions like family and school help in shaping their national identity.
Herrera and Robias (2010) adapted Doronila's NIS to find out the perspectives of national identity among third year high school students in Baguio City. The results showed that although "respondents exhibit a positive preference for things Filipino, these preferences have not yet been lifted to a level of consciousness that would make their manifestation of such personal preferences as expressive of their identity as Filipino, or as charters of national identity" (Herrera & Robias, 2010, p.67). This suggests that even at the age of adolescence, Filipinos are still on the essentialist level of identifying with our nation. The study also shows that Filipinos are perceived as industrious and family-oriented people.
In a study on pagka-Filipino, Yacat (2002) claimed that there are two kinds of pagka-Filipino: Filipino by name which is shallow and Filipino by heart which is deeply-rooted. He provided several sources of knowledge which he acknowledged as important in the process of being a Filipino. Among them are family, school, community, and mass media. He further stressed the importance of the family where culture and Filipino identity take root and of the school which nurtures the idea of pagka-Filipino. Moreover, Yacat (2002) elaborates that the consciousness of being a Filipino starts through the observed external experiences of the people and is imbibed internally only through teachings and learning through their own experience. Thus, the individual's sense of pagka-Filipino depends on the kind and type of information being processed and accepted.
David (2009) asserts that our consciousness of pagka-Filipino does not come automatically. Knowing the national symbols is not enough. These should not only remind us that we are Filipinos but also of our commitment as Filipinos. Being aware that we are part of one country should be deeper than the mere singing of the national anthem (David, 2009).
Felipe de Leon Jr., Chair of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, emphasizes that pride in being a Filipino leads to national development. He further claimed that it requires a deep sense of identity to claim what is ours. Moreover, to achieve national unity, there must be a generalized pride for our country and a genuine love for the Philippines. Taking to heart this national sense of being a Filipino should be a collective WE feeling that translates to national unity and economic success (Abueva, 1999).
Sanchez presents a way to achieve these shared aspirations of Filipinos through education. She states further, "This national consciousness will then help define our identity as a people and lead us to work towards the attainment of common goals for our society" (2002, p.2).
Sanchez (2002) explains that Filipinos have a shared schema, knowledge and culture known as cultural literacy. Her study measured the cultural literacy of high school students. The study yielded disappointing results: students from private and public schools do not have adequate knowledge of Philippine art, not one respondent reached the passing score of 50. Equally worth discussing is the teachers' performance: only 20% received a passing score in the same cultural literacy test. The cultural literacy test was based on a canon/ must know checklist of cultural items that every grade VI and fourth year high school should know.
According to Wright (1998), there exists a politicization of "culture" wherein "there is a political process of contestation over the power to define key concepts, including that of 'culture' itself" (Wright, 1998, p.14). The National Commission for the Culture and the Arts (NCCA) is a state institution that defines culture and cultural icons. In 2004, the NCCA started work on the Philippine Cultural Index Project (PCIP), the key project of its Philippine Cultural Education Plan (PCEP). The PCIP is a "massive research, database enrichment, computerization and publication program that would provide a national database on culture and the arts in the Philippines" (Asia-Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO, 2005, p.7). One of the outputs of PCIP is the Essential Knowledge on Philippine Arts, Culture and Heritage for the Basic Education Curriculum (EKPACHBEC) for elementary and secondary level (See Appendix A). The EKPACHBEC is a concise list of important people/institutions, events, places, and objects for each grade level up to high school.
Adarna House also came out with 101 Filipino Icons Volumes 1 and 2 (2007, 2009). Virgilio Almario, National Artist for Literature, defined Filipino icons as events, objects, places, and people significant in Philippine history and valued by majority of Filipinos. He further stated that these icons can influence our pagka-Filipino and pride in being a Filipino.
National Identity Among Early Grades Children
The paper "Findings, Theories and Methods in the Study of Children's National Identifications and National Attitudes" (Barrett & Oppenheimer, 2011) reviews previous findings and methodologies on the development of national feeling, national attitudes, and national identifications. Findings revealed that children begin to acquire geographical knowledge of their country from about five years of age (Barrett, 2005a, 2007; Jahoda, 1963a; Piaget & Weil, 1951), with the mass media (especially television) and travel being important sources of information (Gould & White, 1986).
Children's knowledge of other countries occur at a later age and significantly increase at age eight, with the knowledge coming from formal teaching at school, from television and news.
Most children already know some of the symbolic emblems of their own country by five to six years old and this knowledge continues to develop over subsequent years (Barrett, 2007; Helwig & Prencipe, 1999; Jahoda, 1963b; Moore, Lare, & Wagner, 1985; Weinstein, 1957). Though there is a significant cross-national variability in such knowledge (Barrett et al., 1997), and there are also variations within countries in children's use of, and affect for, national emblems as a function of their language group, ethnicity, and gender (Moodie, 1980; Moore et al., 1985).
Stereotyping of some groups are acquired already by the age of five or six (Barrett & Short, 1992; Barrett, Wilson, & Lyons, 2003; Bar-Tal, 1996; Lambert & Klineberg, 1967;Oppenheimer & Hakvoort, 2003) and by 10 or 11 years, children hold extensive beliefs about the typical physical features, clothing, habits, psychological and personality traits of a large number of different national groups. These beliefs are obtained from different sources such as television, films, books, schoolwork and parents, visits to other countries, and personal contact with foreigners (Barrett, 2007; Barrett & Short, 1992; Bar-Tal, 1997; Holloway & Valentine, 2000; Lambert & Klineberg, 1967).
Children from seven years onward exhibit preference for their own country and strong national pride and this pride and preference strengthens throughout middle childhood (Barrett & Short, 1992; Hess & Torney, 1967; Jaspers, van de Geer, Tajfel, & Johnson, 1972; Johnson, Middelton, & Tajfel, 1970). However, this is not a universal phenomenon since other countries and national groups may still be preferred over the child's own country (Middleton, Tajfel, & Johnson, 1970; Moore et al., 1985; Tajfel, Jahoda, Nemeth, Rim, & Johnson, 1972).
By the age of six, most children "acknowledge their membership of their own national group, but their strength of subjective identification with that group varies at this early age" (Barrett, 2007, p.2). There is a great deal of variation in the subsequent development of children's national identifications and this depends on the child's country, geographical location, ethnicity, the use of language within the family, and language of schooling (Barrett, 2005b, 2007).
Koh (2010) emphasized that it is during childhood that an individual start to identify with the nation. She declared "childhood experience is commonly taken to be the bedrock upon which self-identity is built, and national consciousness is regarded by many as a key foundation of a modern persons' identity" (Koh, 2010, p.1). Furthermore, she saw the need for studies on how children perceive national identity. She stated "children should be central to the study of national feeling, place-belonging, and citizenship. And yet, we do not know a great deal about how school-age children actually do relate to the idea of nation" (Koh, 2010, p.2).
In the Philippine setting, Doronila (1986) conducted a study of the content and meaning of Filipino national identity among elementary students, including grade 1 and grade 2. The respondents' age ranges from 7 to 14 belonging to low-income urban communities. She found out that students do not have a strong attachment to our country. Although there is loyalty to the regional group, that does not translate to national loyalty. Students also lack understanding of Philippine history and colonial mentality permeates their consciousness. However, respondents are inclined towards things Filipino such as Filipino food and the special traits of our people. But Doronila asserts that this "preferences have not yet been lifted up to a level of consciousness that would make the manifestation of such preferences as expressive of their identity as Filipino." Moreover, Doronila's research illustrates that a national symbol such as the flag is only moderately appreciated.
Children's Literature, Storytelling, and National Identity
Desai (2006) points out in the article "National Identity in a Multicultural Society: Malaysian Children's Literature in English" that the stories we tell and the books we read to our children all contribute to the development of their personal identity, cultural or natural identity, and psychological identity-processes which all begin in childhood. Thus, Â any "unrealistic or superficial portrayals, as in the cases of characters with different-sounding names but identical faces and behavior, or portrayals in which characters from certain groups are always shown as passive, or taking second place, are also damaging. Like Ellison's invisible man, children reading these stories must be forced to wonder why others look at them and either don't see them at all, or see only themselves or figments of their imagination" (Desai, 2006, p.181).
The reintroduction of English in Malaysia as a medium of instruction pave the way to the proliferation of children's books published in English, with Malaysian characters and settings. In a sampling of these current children's picture books, the author points out the misrepresentation (as in the case of mothers being seen only as mothers, housewives, and teachers) and omission of diverse groups (lower classes, indigenous and immigrant groups being left out altogether) and how this may influence the minds of the readers in their attitude towards themselves, and their nation and others. Although Desai's study is particular to the situation of Malaysian children picture books, there are similarities to the Philippine setting such as the use of English as medium of instruction and the large number of children's books in the English language. With the Department of Education's introduction of Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) will perhaps bring forth more children's books written in Filipino and in other regional languages of the Philippines.
Similar to the Philippine case, national cohesion is seen as crucial to Malaysia's very survival in the face of economic, ethnic, and religious challenges and diversity. Many of the picture books attempt to instill this cohesion in the young. Â But "rather than asserting didactically that Malaysians are all one, literature must allow multiple, even conflicting perspectives or productive instability'' (1994, p. 38).
The author praises the stories of writer and cartoonist Lat whose works were published 25 years ago. Â Â Lat shows his readers Malaysian life with its rich variety of people and culture. Â These kinds of work which are "not preaching but rather demonstrating the intricate intercultural performance that takes place every day in contemporary Malaysian society, are more likely to influence children's conception of national identity so that diverse groups might become a more equal part of it. This is a literature still in the early stages of finding its many potential voices and thus it is too soon to finalize its conception of Malaysian identity. In the end it is not the preservation of differences that is of paramount importance but rather the right of each group to speak for itself and to evolve in its own way on an equal footing" (Desai, 2006, p.182).
In the case study conducted by Raven and O'Donnel (2010), a digital storytelling competition held by United Arab Emirates' Sharjah Higher Colleges of Technology among its Emirati students was investigated. The Mosaic 2009: Proudly Emirati digital storytelling competition Â aimed to address the issue of national identity being under threat, as many scholars and commentators feel that the presence of expatriate workers living in the country and the cultural influences they bring with them is eroding the UAE sense of national identity. Â This case addressed how the process of creating digital stories with the theme "Proudly Emirati" shaped the students' perspectives and national identity.
A total of 62 digital stories were entered into the competition under 15 categories, including architecture, entertainment, people, food, occupations, traditions, national history, and family treasures. The majority of entries were in the form of animations or video.
Feedbacks were collected from a total of 150 students participating in the initiative by way of focus groups and online surveys using the Blackboard Vista Learning Management System in February 2010 and a total of 104 students completed it (87 per cent response rate). Results showed that the students have increased feelings of national pride not only from creating their own stories but by viewing other student entries as well. As shown on the online survey, all of the students that took part in the digital storytelling competition agreed with the opinion that the event increased their pride in their country.Â Â There is also a strong agreement among majority of the respondents that they learned more about their country through the digital competition.
In conclusion, digital storytelling competitions have enormous potential, in any educational context, and "is an innovative way to motivate students towards actively investigating social issues individually or in groups by presenting their work in an interactive way to a wide audience using modern multimedia and web applications" (Raven & O'Donnel, 2010, p.214).
In the Philippine setting, Dela Cruz, De Leon, Mirano and Tiongco (2009) claim that traditional storytelling, dances, songs and games evolved from an adult's perspective. The authors further contend that these are passed down to younger generations to reinforce and strengthen a behavior or cultural norms and attitude and as a form of legacy to perpetuate cultural tradition. Lopez (2001), in her study on Philippine games asserts that Filipinos generally like to play games and old games are still being played but with new attributes and modifications in execution.
Matulka (2008) wrote a book entitled, A Picture Book Primer which provided comprehensive information on the subject. The book offered a suitable definition of picture book in relation to this study by citing Bader's definition which is "text, illustrations, total design; an item of manufacture and a commercial product; a social, cultural and historic document; and foremost, an experience for a child" (in Matulka, 2008, p.1). This definition touches on the three important aspects of this study - content style, its cultural aspect, and the children. The book also provided several important insights such as different meanings can result from the picture-text relationship for various readers; that exposure to picture books helps in developing literacy skills of children; and that through the picture books' narrative art, children are introduced to visual and verbal communication, thereby enhancing literacy. Further, the book cited Nodelman (1990) by stating that the readers create meanings in texts by filling in gaps between what is stated and what is implied (in Matulka, 2008).
A study by Arizpe and Styles (2003) examines the responses of the children, aged four to eleven, to picture books. It explores the development of meaning from complex images on the literal, visual and metaphorical levels among children ages four to eleven. The result of the study shows that children learn the ability to read images and their meanings through picture books. Children's experience with picture books enhances their capacity to create their own meanings out of complex ideas. Hillman (2003) described the picture book as the child's gateway to the world, the first step outside the child's immediate environment. "The precise combination of art and words is a powerful experience because it triggers the imagination & introduces concepts for cognitive and language development" (Hillman, 2003, p.89). Aquino (2009) said that children's literature activates the schema of the child and presents vicarious experiences that encourage cognitive processes such as assimilation and accommodation.
Sablay (2001) in a study on the Filipino culture and storybooks cited Nancy Hand's (1986) definition of picture books as "harmonious marriage between words and pictures in which neither the text nor the art can stand on its own." (p.8) Moreover, it was also mentioned that children's understanding of the environment is enhanced by picture books and that illustrations help lead the children into reading. The importance of illustrations was further supported by Powers (2003) when he stated that children tend to read pictures rather than the text.
Furthermore, picture books play a significant role in shaping the national and cultural consciousness of young Filipinos. During the Unang Pambansang Kumperensiya sa Panitikang Pambata, Dr. Eugene Evasco identified dalanlahi and dalambayan as two of his guiding philosophies in writing books for children (Evasco, 2007). He expounds that stories should link children to their nation and carry Filipino culture and tradition. National Artist Virgilio Almario asserted that there must be rigorous research on Filipino culture and artists must show multi-cultural designs in their illustrations (Almario, 2010). The words and illustration in picture books carry the spirit of the times and are effective vehicles for our Filipinoness.
Alabado (1979) defined picture book as "A book in which the pictures or drawings or illustrations play an equally important role, they appear in every page, and are integral part of the action in the text of book" (Alabado, 1979, p.47). She stated that interaction with picture books is a sensorial, cognitive, and affective experience. For picture books to be effective, "the ideas and feelings they contain must be those of childhood, of Filipino childhood, and not merely simplified adult ideas and emotions" (Alabado 1979, p.47). This means that children can only process knowledge and feelings that are close to their everyday experience and immediate surroundings. Alabado cited three components of a good picture book namely: substance in text; aesthetic interpretation through illustrations; and harmonious book design (Alabado 1979, p.48). Alabado (2001) pointed out the varied and complex Filipino society and culture resulted in the different forms and content of children's literature. She further detailed that the culture and societal attitudes at different historical periods of our country are reflected in our literature. Alabado also stressed that that literature is an instrument in instilling attitudes and values, transmitting cultural norms along with conveying information and knowledge relevant to the children.
Picture Books and Pagka-Filipino
There are several local studies on the influences of picture books and story books on the child. Entereso (2009) evaluated 15 Adarna House books included in the International Children's Digital Library to probe the basis of the books' characterization and plot. She found out that all the books have cultural bases and characters that Filipino children can relate to. This means that the 15 books were based on Philippine experience and Filipino culture was depicted accurately. Pinzon (2008) examined 30 Hiyas children's books to determine their representation of current social reality in the Philippines. Her research revealed that social reality in terms of character representation is shown in the selected OMF published books. There are ethnic characters, elderly characters, and physically/ mentally challenged characters in the stories. The books also featured broadened family situation with single parent characters and orphan characters. Africa (2005) analyzed the child's prior knowledge and how stories affect young learner's thinking process and skills by reading aloud fourteen storybooks. Her study revealed that pictures and text in stories shape and expand the child's schema. Picture books are useful tools for children to assimilate new ideas and accommodate them with existing concepts. She wrote that stories are foundational tools in helping the young construct meaning for themselves. Through the words and images in picture books, children connect loose ends, learn concepts, and think critically.
Yokota (2009) emphasized that culture must be represented truthfully in the stories and illustrations so the target audience can relate to the main characters. Children should be able to identify with the characters through various cultural nuances familiar to them such as textile patterns in clothing and traditional practices. Cultural accuracy comes first in her criteria for choosing books.
Eugenio (2008) observed that the "rise of nationalistic spirit and asserting one's identity is always accompanied by interest in folklore because folk people forms the core of the nation and is the main ingredient in the identity of the country" (2008, p. 37).
Smith and Wiese (2006) looked into picture book and story book adpatations of folktales and proceeded to authenticating the The Golden Sandal: A Middle Eastern Cinderella Story with the help of pre-service teachers and utilizing an inquiry-based process. The authors used the following criteria in authenticating the picture book: (1) remains reasonably true to the original printed source, (2) accurately and respectfully represents the values and beliefs of the cultural group, and (3) responsibly depicts geographical, historical, and cultural details (p.72). Their research revealed that although the text was culturally accurate, the illustrations failed to meet their criteria for cultural authenticity. The authors assert that children acquire cultural awareness early on and inaccurate depiction of culture, especially in the illustration, can distort their perspectives of culture. They further state the importance of including unique cultural details in the story to promote and distinguish one culture from another.
Former University of the Philippines President Jorge Bacobo (in Sablay, 2001) said that although "folktales in the nation vary, they are still a tool in uniting the nation" (Sablay, 2001, p.3). Indeed, we are a multi-cultural nation, but we also share a common socio-cultural experience.
Gender and Picture Books
Using data from 157 countries for a period of 15 years (from 1991-2006), Cooray and Niklas Potrafke (2011) established in their study that there exists gender inequality in education influenced primarily by culture and religion. They cited the case of Muslim countries in which religion and culture do not promote gender equality in institutions such as schools.
According to Crabb and Marciano (2011), children's books manifest gender issues in the culture and period in which they were published. Using content analysis of 490 illustrations from 68 Caldecott Medal /Honor books between 1990 and 2009, the authors took note of the gender and type of material cultural artifact used (household, production) by the characters. Crabb and Marciano deduced that majority of female characters in the books used household artifacts like kitchen utensils, while more male characters used production tools. The authors assert that the use of "material culture can influence oneself, other people, and society" (Crabb & Marciano, 2011, p.396). The existing gender stereotypes can contribute to the child's schema development and behavior.
In the Philippines, Carlos (2003) investigated the presence of gender stereotyping in twenty-four Lampara books and found out that there are 25% more male than female main characters in the books analyzed. Her research also yielded similar perspectives of gender roles and occupations between respondents in the survey and what is present in the storybooks. Quiwa (1998) studied gender representations in children's literature in the Philippines using fifty-four picture books. She analyzed the text and illustration of the books and found out that there exists gender bias in picture books in the Philippines as evidenced by the depiction of women commonly engaged in domestic roles. Men on the other hand are generally portrayed in professional occupations and like Carlos' findings, there are more male characters than female characters in the illustrations.
Figure 1. Conceptual Framework on Children's Perspectives on Pagka-Filipino
The framework shows that the experiences of the child, whether social or cultural, influence his/her perspectives and consciousness of being a Filipino. Everyday arena, habitual experiences and concrete materials surrounding the child's routines such as games, food, clothes, animals, famous people, things commonly used, and activities often engaged in are important in the child's formation of the concept of "pagka-Filipino."Â
The children's experiences are recalled and their schemata activated when interacting with picture books which in turn, affect their construction of pagka-Filipino. Picture books are effective material to find out in concrete terms the "pagka-Filipino" of early graders. How the children perceive the words and images in the picture book that depict "pagka-Filipino" will reveal their concept of "pagka-Filipino." The Filipino icons in the text and illustrations in picture books are concrete items that children can identify with. The words and images they perceive are assimilated and accommodated by the children and they relate these to their direct experiences at home and in the community.
Definition of Terms
To establish a common frame and to facilitate better understanding of the research, the following terms are defined below as they were used in the study:
Early grades children. In this study, early graders are children belonging to Grade 1 and Grade 2 levels, with ages ranging from 5 to 11 at the time of gathering the data.
Filipino Icons. This study adopted Almario's definition of Filipino icons as events, objects, places, and people significant in Philippine history and valued by majority of Filipinos (Almario & Almario, 2009).
Low income bracket. According to Dr. Romulo Virola of the National Statistical Coordination Board, families with annual income below P251,283 or P20,940.25 monthly income fall under the low-income bracket.
Pagka-Filipino. This study adopted Doronila's (1986) definition of national identity or "pagka-Filipino" as a national consciousness of being a Filipino. She listed orientations defining pagka-Filipino which include: (1) generalized pride in one's country; (2) valuing special qualities of Filipinos; (3) valuing characteristic way of life; (4) valuing national traditions (historical, cultural); (5) valuing cultural products; and (6) pride in national symbols.
Perspective. Merriam Webster Dictionary's definition of perspective which is adopted in this research is "a point of view, the interrelation in which a subject or its parts are mentally viewed, the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance."
Picture book. This study adopted Alabado's (1979) definition of picture book, "A book in which the pictures or drawings or illustrations play an equally important role, they appear in every page, and are integral part of the action in the text of book" (Alabado, 1979, p.47).