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The "Teach Less Learn More" (TLLM) policy initiative was launched to encourage students to become active learners and take ownership of their own learning (Ng, 2008). To this end, schools and teachers are to implement pedagogies to facilitate students' learning process in this direction. For beginning teachers, we may face challenges as we try to implement it. Current education policies have been around for many years and it may be difficult to persuade teacher colleagues, school leaders and our students to change their mindsets. This calls for everyone to rethink our approach to education.
Moving towards Engaged Learning
Beginning teachers need to adopt a totally different learning paradigm (Ng, in press). Instead of regulating students on their learning, students have to manage their own learning as they define their own learning objectives and undertake activities that lead them toward the goal.
However, some students may overly rely on teachers to provide the information. Students, especially those at the lower spectrum are hardly taking charge of their own learning. They often require teachers to spoon-feed them with information and push them to learn (Ng, 2008). Thus it will be difficult to engage them in active learning.
We should not be persuaded to spoon-feed information to such students, but only provide guidance for students to develop their learning. Rather than telling all the time, we can facilitate discussion between the students themselves. They are encouraged to collaborate in activities to learn different viewpoints which can enrich their learning process and be in control of their own learning. These activities may utilise much time to implement in the classroom, something that many teachers lack. They often have to rush to complete the syllabus, with little or no time to cater for extra activities during curriculum time. As beginning teachers' performance is usually measured against students' examination results, we may be reluctant to focus less on results which directly determine our performance and work appraisal.
Hence, we need to innovate and create lesson ideas which stimulate their critical thinking and yet do not take up much lesson time. We can initiate or participate in collaborations between teachers and other schools to design innovative lessons.
Teaching to Excite Passion in Students
One major aim of education is to stimulate passion in the students to learn. Teachers are encouraged to plan activities that foster active learning among students. However, as beginning teachers, we are exposed to the school's curriculum and hectic teaching schedule. We will be tempted to simply be dispensing information to students rather than stimulating their thinking. As a beginning teacher, the challenge is to think of innovative methods of teaching that enables students to learn and creates a stimulating environment for students to reflect on what they have learnt. Eventually students will be converted from passive receivers into active learners of knowledge.
Our education system emphasizes heavily on academic excellence. For the students, it means excelling in examinations and they learn largely for the sake of obtaining good grades in examinations. As teachers, we should inculcate them that education is about innovation, develop intellectual curiosity and trying new and untested routes toward academic success. Teachers need to excite passion in students to learn not only to score in examinations, but also to broad their horizons and discover new grounds. As mentioned earlier, beginning teachers tend to teach students only those content that is required for students to regurgitate in examinations. Thus, we have to adjust our focus toward teaching to excite passion to students, through creative activities and classroom discussions, so that our students can achieve academic excellence and at the same time develop an inquiry mindset toward learning.
Focus more on the learning process rather than the product
As beginning teachers, we are assigned a particular subject to teach. However, we should provide a holistic education for our students. In the midst of our lessons, we can impart certain values and morals such as honesty to our students. At the opportune moment, we can also imbue National Education values such as patriotism into our students. Teaching should not be kept strictly within the subject content. When we teach certain subjects such as Mathematics and Sciences, we often show the set formulae to obtain the answer. Though getting the right answer or product is important, we should also focus on the process of getting it. We can encourage students to try alternative, new and untested routes or make critical comparisons between different procedures. Similarly, when we pose questions to our students, we should not emphasize heavily on standard textbook answers, but rather encourage them to adopt an inquiry attitude toward the subject matter. We must allocate time for students to reflect and question their own learning so they can develop intellectual curiosity and achieve a holistic education.
The ideas of "Teach Less Learn More" may be imparted to beginning teachers in our training process, but to implement it in a classroom setting may prove difficult. We are exposed to past education policies as students, so it may be difficult for us to change our mindsets in our teaching pedagogies. The current educational success is still largely determined by examination results , which determine the level of prestige to teachers and the school (Ng, 2008). As beginning teachers, we must develop innovative ways of implementing TLLM pedagogies in the classroom that will enable our students to learn and advance in their studies.