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Firstly, education allows one to discover what subject one is talented in. With that, one can make good use of the talent by pursuing what they are good at. Education allows one to pursue subjects in areas one has great passion in. Passion drives the learning process. Education allows one to research extensively in a particular subject that one likes.
Secondly, education allows students to become creative problem solvers and develop reasoning abilities. Learners will develop to their potential when tackling challenging questions in their curriculum.
Thirdly, one pursues an education to glean the knowledge and skills that the curriculum offers and gain a valuable qualification which is vital for a relevant job in a relevant industry. For example, one will study an education degree from NIE (National Institute of Education) in order to pursue a career as a teacher. One invests time and money in the hope to getting a stable job with good pay.
Fourthly, education provides one with the mental capacity to think and make decisions. It develops a person mentally and physically. It allows a person to explore his inclinations, abilities and glean a set of skills and knowledge to find him gainful employment. It builds a person up in his self-esteem. On a society level, education gains to assimilate a person into the norms of the society.
Fifthly, education serves to inculcate moral values in a person. It teaches him what is right and what is wrong so that he will be of high integrity and become an intelligent, concerned, law-abiding and responsible citizen of Singapore.
Lastly, through education, one learns new technologies to keep abreast with this 21st century so that one will be IT-Savvy to handle future job demands.
Social purposes of education are:
Firstly, students go to schools for lessons, PE (Physical Education) and ECA (Extra-Curriculum Activities). In the process, there is cross-cultural interaction when he mingles well with the various races of our multi-racial and multi-religious society. This encourages racial harmony and cohesion.
Secondly, education allows one to socialize, widen one's social circle and foster camaraderie and great friendships between his classmates and teachers.
Thirdly, in providing a holistic education, besides excelling in studies, one has to keep fit and healthy. This can be done by participating in various programmes, sports and activities.
Economic purpose of education is:
The society hopes that through the provision of education to its people, they will learn vital skills and acquire the educational qualifications to enter an industry of Singapore relevant to their field of study. These skilled professionals will contribute to the various sectors of Singapore's industry, triggering Singapore's economic growth.
I feel that individual purposes of education in society are very important as the type of education that one chooses reflects the path that he wants to pursue. Once individual purposes are achieved, they will follow on with social and economic purposes of education. Overall, individual, social and economic purposes of education in society are equally as important as each other.
The implications for students in Singapore schools are that:
With the initiative in life Sciences, Secondary Two students participate in Life Sciences experiments to discover if they have a talent for Life Sciences. Secondary School students who discover their passion in a particular area like Life Sciences will pursue that subject in university.
Students keep fit by participating in their schools' Healthy Eating Programme, which promotes food that is healthy and less in oil, salt and sugar. There is a PE Programme for students to keep fit. Students who overweight are sent for the TAF Programme which schedules them for morning runs on one day of the week, to help them slim down.
Leaning become meaningful when students put into practice what they have learnt by participating in outdoor learning by attending Outward Bound School, overseas trips, exchange programmes, GESL for student teachers (Group Endeavors in Service Learning), attachments at companies and internships like Meranti project. This can enrich experiences of students and also builds up the camaraderie between them.
Students also adopt the Thinking Schools and Learning Nation movement. It consists of several initiatives: ICT (Information and Communication Technologies), being creative and critical thinkers who have great problem solving skills, TLLM (Teach Less and Learn More), introducing National Education, PBL (Problem Based Learning) and Engaged Learning.
Students learn new ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) Tools like you tube, Google docs, Google sites, PB wiki, face book, twitter as well as online messaging tools like Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger as well as Skype. It will help them in their communication and also aid them in discussion of their curriculum.
In order for students to be creative and critical thinkers, there are changes in curriculum. These curriculums require students to understand the content, express their views and not result in rote learning. Rote learning is learning the facts by hard with no understanding of what the content is trying to relate to the student. They include O-Level Combined Humanities which has social studies as a new subject. Junior College Curriculum has a new subject called Knowledge and Inquiry. There is less emphasis on examinations where talented students who are in Integrated Programmes, skip the O-Levels and just take the A Levels or International Baccalaureate.
Students adopt the TLLM (Teach less and learn more) Initiative where the teacher teach less and students brainstorm on different opinions on a subject. In this way, they learn more as they are motivated and proactive in learning. This results in engaged learning as there is active student participation in class. Students must think out of the box, be problem solvers and develop reasoning abilities. Learners develop to their potential. There is reduction in the syllabus for subjects like Mother Tongue and less emphasis on examinations and more focus on the learning process.
National Education is introduced to allow students to be concerned and objective citizens. It allows one to be aware of Singapore's history and culture and be sensitive to the various races and religions of Singapore. This encourages racial harmony and cohesion.
Students engage in PBL (Problem-Based Learning) when they participate in Inter-disciplinary Project Work. Project work requires students to collaborate and do research. This promotes creative thinking and entrepreneur spirit among the students. The student also learns from the teacher who checks if they are on the right direction. In the process, the students become confident learners and question on the content that is displayed to him and determine which facts are right or wrong.
This will prepare the students for work in the corporate world where the employee has to be a great team player and work well as a team. When meetings are held, the employee has to give valuable input on the right decision to make.
There is engaged learning when students learn proactively by engaging in experimental learning. For example, chemistry students are placed in a chemistry lab and are given chemicals. They chemicals are mixed with some indicators like ammonia. They observe the color change in the chemicals and deduce whether the chemical is an acid or alkali.
The implications for teachers in Singapore schools are:
Effective teachers utilize ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) like using a tablet PC and use modern blackboard technology like PDF annotator. They set their quizzes online, record their lectures online or conduct video conferencing with students. They can use PowerPoint slides to present their lessons. Students can have a copy of their PowerPoint slides and not result in incessant copying of the content on the whiteboard. This will distract them from listening in class as they are too preoccupied with copying texts.
With the life sciences initiative, science teachers need to be equipped with knowledge and skills for life science, to teach Life Science to Secondary students. They can study Masters of Science in Life Sciences at NIE.
Teachers have to alter their teaching methods to suit different learning abilities, needs and aptitudes of our mainstream students. They come from Gifted Stream, Special Stream, Express Stream, Normal Academic Stream and Normal Technical Stream. This ensures that students learn well as some are visual learners, auditory learners as well as kinesthetic learners. Hence, students require different teaching methods to do well in their examinations.
Teachers bring about engaged learning with the students when they teach less and introduce project work for the students. The students brainstorm extensively for ideas on both sides of the topic. The teacher acts as a mentor who advises students on what is right and what is wrong when students present their findings from the internet.
Teachers function as strategists. Teachers strategize on planning interesting lessons for the students. They can also do mind maps and do short summaries of notes and prepare extra questions for the students. Teachers can also conduct remedial classes to reach out to wayward students.
Teachers function as coaches. They head Extra-Curriculum activities if the school does not have enough budgets to recruit an external coach. For example, in dance, the teacher designs the choreography of the dance performance. He coaches students, familiarize them with the dance steps and leads them on to competitions like SYF (Singapore Youths Festival).
Teachers function as guides. They bring students on study trips to places of interest like Jurong Bird Park to understand birds, Sentosa Nature Discovery at Imbiah Lookout of Sentosa to look at flora and fauna and wildlife. For national education, teachers can bring students to Images of Singapore at Imbiah Lookout of Sentosa to understand the four races of Singapore. Students will discover for themselves Singapore's rich heritage and culture.
A teacher must have a positive attitude towards teaching students. Students will remain optimistic about their learning and be motivated towards gleaning vital knowledge and skills in their academic subjects.
A good teacher is objective in his views. He is sensitive to the different races and religions of the students in his class. He is also a caring and friendly teacher. He must have great passion in his teaching, to share the love of the subject to the students. This will motivate his students to learn more and do better in their studies.
A teacher is functioning as a facilitator. He has to take charge of the learning process so that learning can be on target. This makes sure that he can complete the syllabus of the academic subject he is teaching. He has to be enthusiastic and patient in his teaching so that the students will be interested in his teaching. A teacher also acts as a facilitator when he heads an ECA (Extra-Curriculum Activity) and facilitates Inter-Disciplinary Project work. He monitors the progress of student leaders heading the ECA and the group doing the project work. He guides them on the right direction.
A teacher multitasks as an efficient manager. He has to juggle roles as an academic and ECA teacher as well as an administrator. As an academic teacher, he has to mark assignments, set examination papers, plan and conduct lessons as well as maintain the discipline of the class. As an administrator, he has to mark attendance, and invigilate examinations, type conduct and academic reports into the school system. As an ECA teacher, he has to lead the students in the administration of the ECA.
The teacher is doing the job of a counselor. He must care for his students, communicate with them and understand the problems in their studies as well as their family problems.
In conclusion, to teach IT-savvy students, teachers must upgrade their skills and go for retraining at NIE and study postgraduate degrees like Masters of Instructional Design and Technology. They can pursue relevant tertiary qualifications in SIM University or Teachers' Academy. This makes sure that their skills remain relevant. A good teacher can make a positive difference in students' lives and inspire the students to do well, whether in the academic and non-academic areas like music, arts or sports.