changing education landscape

10 May

not only has the syllabus gone through some major changes since i left sch, but the emphasis on teaching techniques has also changed. when i first became a teacher, i found myself asking questions i didnt even ask when i studied for exams. and thats because i found students asking “but why?” and “why wont it happen this way?”

then i realised the need to start teaching for understanding. but of course, this means the syllabus covered in the time allocated to us must be reasonable.

i kind of wish that with the syllabus for sec 2 bio being brought down to sec 1, they had given us more time during lessons. but to complete 1.5 yrs of syllabus within 1 yr, and to teach it effectively seems to me like a tall order.

maybe doing away with the mid and final yr exams are applaudable. but of cos, the parents genuine concern that that wont prepare them for the written O level exams.

which is why we only do this for sec 1s. inevitably, the sec 2 teachers might have to go to that extra bit of trouble watching the way students answer questions during major exams.

well, pros and cons.

examinations. given the time we have to teach vs what we hope to achieve from educating the kids, seriously consider how effective can an all rounded education be. which is why most of the time, educating becomes teaching, regardless of whether students are learning.

and the simplest way out is to teach what they are going to be assessed on. which could ultimately become, “memorise the way to do this, and we will be correct and score high marks”. since what we teach is based on what they are being assessed on, there’s just one answer. why is it that Singaporeans do very well in international academic competitions?

though there’s been positive change in the type of questions they ask. more interpretive, critical thinking questions which require the application of prior knowledge.

and that tests their understanding. and of course, that boils down to who understands more.

my sch did away with mid and final yr exams for selected sec 1 subjects. cant talk much abt it here cos that would require clearance from boss, but having been the hot topic for discussions in the education circle, it seems that this is a controversial step forward. formative assessment vs summative assessment. that is, assessment for learning vs assessment of learning.

so i suppose questions should differ too right?

thats what we do when we question students for their TLLM projects. i’ll put up some questions after the remaining 2 groups have presented.

and then you’ll realise that to test for student understanding, the students must first realise the basics. which ends up being tested as plain theoretical ones. and can you imagine students failing in those, and then us having to pause and pause and pause to make sure they understand the concepts before we carry on.

and then some students understand more quickly then others, and then the dilemma on whether we should move on or re-teach. and the easy way out becomes remedial after school….

the change is happening.

the practicals now are different from the practical exams we’ve had. although i was very much against the idea of SPA, ive come to see that it does assess students on different aspects. i still have my doubts. but, i mean, i dont seem to have a better alternative, so, SPA will be just fine.

and then of cos the govt officials study education models of other countries to adapt the best solutions.

and change in ministerial bodies will bring new policies. and that’ll change the education landscape.

i suppose, ultimately, it boils down to teaching and learning in the class. the depth of their understanding will show when they relate theories to new situations. when they can evaluate the data given to them and infer even though the questions are twisted. when they are able to ask intelligent questions. and when they are able to evaluate the consequences of their actions.

that, of course, would be fantastic.

but back to the practicalities of the current situations……………………. it seems to me, that there is only one direction. exams.

so sad. i have the potential to mould these kids into the best possible ones for the world, and i dont seem to feel that the current situations allow for that.

just my personal thoughts.


Posted by on May 10, 2007 in i-Reflect, i-Typical, i-Wish


2 responses to “changing education landscape

  1. Abimaniyu

    May 11, 2007 at 12:35 am

    I am totally in favour of the no-exam concept because I do not agree that one should put a number (i.e exam marks) to how much a student know. And ultimately gauging potential by analysing how well those numbers add up is not the best way of branding students and channelling them to their ‘appropriate’ career paths. Just my thought… 🙂

  2. misspegasus

    May 11, 2007 at 6:03 pm

    im ok with taking away major exams and testing them in other ways. for some subjects, it should be fine. questionning to understand why they answer in a particular manner. being open to discussing the possibilities of other ways of doing things instead of just accepting one answer.
    but if N and O levels remain as typical written exams, it is going to be hard to do away with exams.
    then we will need to train them. esp for some kids, the language is a serious problem. they can say it out, but they cant communicate effectively in writing. project work……… ya. fine. but….. assessment rubrics need to be examined.
    if any effective change is going to be made, there has to be serious discussion on various levels on effective assessment methods.
    and then ppl will realise, exams are just the easy way out. cos assessing any other way is going to be tiring. more effective but tiring.
    the TLLM presentations were rather effective i’d say. will put up stuff on it soon..


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