Thursday, August 30, 2007

Show students how their school lessons can be applied to everyday life

http://www.straitstimes.com/ST%2BForum/Online%2BStory/STIStory_152902.html

Aug 30, 2007

AS A former school teacher, I was really delighted to read Ms Lau Ai Lin's letter, 'Children need curiosity and passion to take on challenges of globalised world' (ST, Aug 27).

For far too long, Singaporeans have regarded education as being similar to medicine, something which is not always pleasant tasting but should be shoved down the pupils' throats all in the name of being good for them. As any school teacher should know, this approach to teaching any subject is an exceedingly frustrating one.

Ms Lau rightly points out that students need to be curious and passionate about what they are doing. She rightly points out that in the 'working world', attitude counts. An employee doing something that he or she is passionate about is usually good at it. The same is true of students.

Why can't we think of education in the same manner? Rather than treating the school curriculum as a painful but necessary operation to be imposed on an unwilling student, we should approach education as a two-way process - one where students see the value in what they are learning.

How can we achieve this? I believe that this can be done by showing students how their school lessons can be applied to everyday life and given the Government's focus on 'Private-Public-Partnership' (PPP), the private sector should be encouraged to help the Ministry of Education (MOE) in this area.

One positive example is 3M, a company known for inventing technologies like the Post-It Pad. At last month's Young Innovators Award, the company introduced two programmes that it is working on with MOE, the 'Visiting Wizards Programme' for Primary Students and a 'TECH'' programme for secondary school students. Both these programmes involve practising scientists showing students how their basic science lessons are applied in real life.

MOE should work on more of such partnerships. Helping students discover their curiosity and passion for learning will reap benefits for the private sector in the form of more innovative and productive workers. The Government should actively look at ways in which such PPP activities can be formed between the education system and private sector. It can only be good for Singapore's future.

Tang Li


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