Manny, “Pssst, Remi, ano ba ang sagot ng 1?”
Remi whispers, “ROYGBIV”
Manny does some hasty scribbling. Remi positions his paper for Manny to read answers to questions 6 (Cumulus) and 7 (Nimbus). Then Remi gently rests his hand over the rest of the answers, which is also an unspoken Rule. You do not have to share your whole lunch when you say, “Kain tayo”. A symbolic portion is OK.
We didn’t think of this as cheating but a way to raise the water level of the whole class. The great leveler, pakikisama, worked to balance the smart, poor, and lazy. Since we were all marked by the same stars, there was often good natured sharing of answers on the quizzes.
Our quarterly report card illustrated grading on the curve in its purest form and was based on a philosophy of interdependence and the impossibility of perfection. After final exams in each subject, we received our report card with numerical grades that ascended through the year. In other words, the highest grade in History was usually an 86 in the first quarter and a 94 by the last. In our school, you never really knew what the highest grade was until you found the person who got it. Each quarter, there was a massive hunt for the highest grade in the class so we could calculate our own class standing. This wasn’t standard practice. We learned from other friends that the highest marks were read aloud.
These were the Rules of the Classroom:
Rule 1 – No one ever receives 100 points, that would make you too mayabang (haughty);
Rule 2– Your points will continue to rise each quarter, so you will feel as though you are improving even if you are doing about the same;
Rule 3 – God is ultimately unknown and so is your class standing;
Rule 4 -- If you pursue knowledge, it must be by inference. In order to find your place in the great chain of being, you cannot ask anyone directly about their grades, but sideways questions they will oblige.
My grandmother never quite understood the logic of pakikisama, which rough translates as, coming along, or better yet, that we are all going together. It had a powerful grip on us all.