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The main objective of this report is to see the changes in teaching strategies over the years and if these changes in teaching strategies has actually helped or made things worst? I will be looking into the different levels of education and from there see if these changes in teaching strategies has helped the students in this new generation. These would also help me see these change in teaching strategies prove useful to help shape Singapore's future.
Singapore's education history
Singapore is a country with different races and religions cohabiting together. Singapore had to do something to address the problem of the numerous private schools that existed during Colonial rule. It was then decided that Singapore had to bring all the racially funded and administered private schools under the management of the newly established Ministry of Education, this policy of ‘Education for All' was somehow like a platform that would help the different races go through a common educational experience but also a common set of educational standards and curriculum that would serve as the foundation for Singapore's economic future.
This educational system helps to offer equal opportunities for all regardless of race or religious denomination, students' progress through the mainstream of this education system base on their achievements. All children in Singapore will experience ten or eleven years of compulsory basic education, six years of primary and four or five years of secondary education, following after which, enrolment into the limited vacancies and fields of study conducted by the institutions of higher learning. These higher learning include, Junior colleges (Pre-university), Polytechincs(Diploma and vocational education), ITE(Institute of Technical Education) or International and private schools. After completion of these institutes they are then given a choice of pursing degrees locally or overseas.
In the 1985/6 Economic committee led by then Minister of State (Trade and Industry) BG Lee Hsien Loong, indentified education as one of the 18 services sector to be nurtured and promoted (The Singapore Economy: New Direction, Feb 1986). Education was recognised for its revenue growth potential, net worth to the economy as well as its export earning potential.
And base on this source it states that the education industry contributes S$3.0 billion to Singapore's economy, which is 1.9% of the GDP.
Primary school changes
Subject-Based banding in Primary schools.
Starting from the 2008 Primary 5 cohort, primary schools will introduce Subject-based Banding to replace the current EM3 stream.Currently EM3 stream students offer the Foundation level for all subjects. With Subject-based Banding, students will be able to offer a mix of Standard or Foundation subjects depending on their aptitude in each subject. For instance, if a student is weak in English and Mathematics, he can choose to take English and Mathematics at the Foundation level while taking Mother Tongue Language and Science at the Standard level. The reason for them doing this is to provide students with customised and differentiated learning experiences, so as to realise their potential, while enhancing opportunities for interaction among students. If being brought back to the previous system where they had streaming the child might have been recommended to take all subjects at the foundation level. This will because it helps teachers to teach better and concentrate better on the students of the same group.
How Subject banding works.
TLLM (Teach Less Learn More)
Teach less, learn more is more about teaching better, engaging students in what they study and also prepare them for life which is also means their future rather than teaching more for tests and examinations. It also somehow reaches into the core of education on things like why teachers teach, what they teach and how they teach this are the few things that they have to bear in mind. The main thing is also to shift its focus from “quantity” to “quality” in education.”More quality” in the terms of classroom interaction, opportunities for expression, the learning of life-long skills and building of one's character through innovative and effective teaching approaches and strategies by the teacher. And when they mean “less quantity” would be in the terms of rote-learning, repetitive tests, and following prescribed answers and set formulae. This would be the things that they would like to cut down on.
This also brings everything back to the time where they first applied this strategy and moving on from where they left off. In this case there are different themes each year in MOE. And for this year which is 2009 their theme would have to be TLLM (Teach Less Learn More).
History of when it started.
Thinking Schools, Learning Nation (TSLN) was adopted as the vision statement for MOE in 1997. It continues to be the main ground of this transformation in the education system, comprising changes in all aspects of education. These changes articulate how MOE would strive toward the Desired Outcomes of Education (DOEs).
Since 2003, they have focused more on one aspect of their DOEs, i.e. nurturing a spirit of Innovation and Enterprise (I&E). This will help build up a core set of life skills and attitudes that they want to achieve in students. It also helps promotes the mindsets that they want to see in the students, teacher, school leaders and beyond.
TLLM (Teach Less Learn More) is being build on the groundwork laid in place by the systemic and structural improvements under TSLN, and the mindset changes encouraging schools under I&E. It continues the TSLN journey to improve the quality of interaction between teachers and students, so that students can be more engaged in their learning and better achieve the desired outcomes of education. The relationship between TSLN, I&E and TLLM is shown in Figure 1 below.
Remember Why We Teach -
Reflect on What We Teach -
Reconsider How We Teach -
Taken from http://www3.moe.edu.sg/bluesky/tllm.htm
A more in depth view on teach less learn more.
The education system has embarked in a new phase new this coming years. And they are actually having a changes in focus from quantity to quality and from the previous thing of efficiency to something called learning. Overall it is a shift in focus from an efficiency-driven system to one focus on quality learning for the students.
These changes is slowly taking place in schools and also tertiary institutions. And the main focus they want to touch on is having this thing of an all-round education so that the younger generation can develop a character that will help them counter difficulties they might face in life and also help them live life to its fullest. They are also not forgetting to look into areas like talents besides academic achievements of oneself. And they are also providing more avenues for students like having more flexibility in school curriculum and this will help students discover their talents and interest and also with this education system they will be able to go as far as they can. This quality education is more of helping students prepare for life instead of examinations. And also the dream to give every student first class education. Like what the Prime minister said in his National day rally speech, Singapore needs a mountain range of different talents, with each being the best that they can be.
This will encourage innovations. New teaching practices from the teaches to the students. This will help respond to the schools needs and also the needs of the students. This will also allow ideas to bubble up through the system rather than being pushed down from the top.
We have to also understand that different school is different. This is because students differ in learning styles and interests. Teachers must know what kind of teaching style that will suit the students so that they are able to learn better and also shape a good character. At primary level we can see that the programme called SEED is being applied and as for the secondary school, schools are customising the curriculum for various subjects so that the students are able to learn more effectively. Some examples are having like outdoor experiences and also through the arts and this can help develop life skills amongst students.
The MOE is very supportive and also encourages teachers to take the time to think through about the improvements they can make which can help engage students individually. And through this the system wants to encourage students for greater flexibility of options on what they want to learn and how they want to learn. The main thing is for the schools to also take ownership on making good decisions for their learners so as they can go forward in education.
Having this teach less learn more doesn't mean that the teachers are told to do less but instead to teach better and also once again prepare students for the real life rather than examinations. Teachers are recommended to reflect and to practise professional sharing and also interact more with the students and thus more time and space are given to the teachers. In order to have this happen amount of content in the curriculum is being reduced and also space will be build into the teacher's weekly timetable so as to give them more time to reflect and share.
Going into more detail about students having more flexibility, the main thing is for students to help discover talents among themselves and also having a more focused choice about the kind of education they want to pursue. And one example would have to be polytechnics selecting students with special talents and achievements, besides their O level examination results.
One case study (Yishun Town Secondary)
Teachers in that school found that their students were unable to sustain interest in the humanities curriculum in their lower secondary classes and so they decided to downsize the content to focus more on the skills and give the teachers more space to get the students engaged. And their strategy is to have lessons taken beyond the classrooms where students discover new knowledge for themselves and they also introduced open book assessments that used case studies or scenarios. Students then had to apply the knowledge leant instead of jus recalling facts.
As we look more in depth to teach less learn more we can see that the main objective is to have more interaction with the students, more space for the teachers to do better lesson plans and also for the students to know their field of interest and from there work on it with this education system and put themselves to the fullest potential.
Schools have their own ways of customising their own teaching strategies. And this strategies apply to those of the same kind. And when I mean same kind I talk about students who find that this learning method suits them. For example, the SEED programme is being applied for the primary schools.
The SEED programme
It actually represents Strategies for Effective and Engaged Development. And the main vision is just the same as teach less learn more but it's strategy is more focused on lower primary students. Primary school students who are in primary 1 and 2. The main objective of this is for the student to self discover and this in turn will help the student or the learner to experience knowledge and skills instead of being told how it is like. And it also allows the students to have a more questioning spirit and this is to help children become more participative in application of knowledge and skills. And this also allows students to make mistakes during the learning process which is very useful when the student reaches the working world so as to build a resilience to take knocks and falls faced.
With this strategy, students get to learn through the outdoors, and this is known as experiential learning. Let's look into a case study of Kranji Primary school.
They have got this STELLAR programme which focuses on students who love reading and through this they believe that students who love reading have a strong foundation in the English language and through this they aim to teach English through more speaking and listening activities with the use of interesting books led with discussions by the teacher so as to develop the student's listening ,speaking , reading and writing skills. So they have activities like book flood, role play, listening post and the word study centre.
Besides having that they have also given the students choices like watching a professional theatrical performance or experimenting with multiple media in creating an art piece. Through this students are able to discover more things about themselves. The key features that the school focuses on in a lesson would be the elements of interactions and play. Through this the teacher will be able to listen to the student's experiences, thoughts and opinions and this will help the teacher in knowing the student better so as to know the student's strength's and weakness. The school also provides a report on the students specific strengths and weakness besides their usual grades. I find that this is very useful for the parent as the parent can work towards a path for their children to a more successful future.
Moving on to a case study from ITE. I find that this case study has also shown the effects of teach less learn more and also its focus on teacher and student interaction. This is to also show the teaching strategies of TLLM at a different level and its effectiveness. But, first we have to know ITE's motto. ITE seeks to nurture students into well rounded “Hands-on, Minds-on, Hearts on” graduates. The meaning of hands on is actually having students equip with the required knowledge and skills set for employment and life long learning. Minds-on learning develops students into independent-thinking, innovative and flexible practitioners. Hearts-on education helps to foster students with passion and values towards self, others and the community.
Moving on to the case study, this teacher actually changed the way he taught. In the past he use to be a stern and strict teacher and always kept a distance with the students. But, as time passed he realise that youths are getting more challenging to teach and he also realised that many of them yearn for recognition, attention and praise. And so he decided to strike a rapport with them by breaking his theory lessons into shorter sessions with intervals in between. And during this intervals the teacher would take this time to know his students better by knowing more about their interest and this helped to relieve the monotony of long lessons. The teacher also encourages students to perform well. And when a test is being conducted small rewards will be given to those who scored 80 and above. And before tests, the teacher would actually text his students and tell them to put their best fight for the examination. And it showed great improvements and also gave a higher passing rate. And this was a statement made by him “I strongly feel that in the profession of teaching when we teach in front of the class, our behavior, character and integrity will be displayed to all students. We can't hide our honesty and sincerity. Students will be able to feel whether we are sincere to teach or help them through our words and action towards them.”
There is this case of a student who changed from being notorious to a star student. He didn't do well during his primary school and secondary school. And he was expelled when in secondary 3 and was involved in many gang activities. And after attending 2 years of national service he joined ITE and was very attentive during lesson but however he failed the first test and was disappointed. When questioned by the teacher he just kept quiet. But, soon after he put his best effort to do even better. And after some time he told the teacher that he was actually disheartened when he failed the first test and was afraid that he might repeat the same mistake he did the last time. And the teacher had faith in him. Gave him a role as a student leader and was being nominated to go overseas program in China. And this gave him confidence and was touched because he wouldn't have been able to hold such posts if was the past. And this also made his family proud of him and it somehow changed him. He made excellent achievements and became one of the COM holder.
From the above case study of the effects of teacher and student interaction, which is part of the TLLM and how it has changed the way students study and also their grades. If there is someone who believes in you, you should believe in yourself too that you are able to do it.
PBL strategy, Problem base learning.
Is a strategy adopted by RP or known as republic polytechnic. And this strategy doesn't use a teacher but instead it uses a facilitator which also acts as a mentor. And this problem base learning allows students to work out answers together with other students. And students are being told to work together as a group.
How it works.
Students will be given a problem for the day and there after they are being told to come out with a problem definition template which requires students to look into my details about the problem. For example, looking back on previous knowledge on what they know which can help to solve the problem, what they do not know so as to know the obstacles they face with the problem and what they need to find out so as to know the focus they should have to solve the problem for the way. The facilitator will guide them to make sure that what they write is relevant so as not to go off focus.
Worksheets are being given to students to do so as to have a better guide to work on the solution. And it also helps students to keep focus on the learning objectives of the day. There after the facilitator will check the progress of the students and also to see if the students are moving on the right track.
After going through the answers with the facilitator students are then asked to do their presentation slides and collate all their answers together and present. There after they will be able to see answers given by the other teams and also the model answer which is given by the facilitator. During the presentations questions will be asked so as to prove your understanding towards the solutions and when listening to others presentation it also allows one to be open to a different angle of problem solving solutions as well.
Once school is over. Students will be given quizzes to do and also an RJ to write and not forgetting to evaluate their fellow peers for their contributions for the day. This is how RP applies this teaching strategy for their students.
And I find that this strategy is rather good because students are being taught problem solving skills and also critical thinking skills which can be applied usefully to the real world and it really helps students prepare themselves for the upcoming obstacles they may encounter in the upcoming future. With presentations at the end of the day also helps strengthens the students confidence in speaking out and presenting themselves.
This is good because it also allows students to make mistakes. And like the usual statement that people always use. Learn from mistakes somehow makes one remember the right answer better. In the past we can see that people make mistakes and from there they learned from it and became successful from there. It also helps to widen ones view of solutions instead of one.