Parents, too, can teach kids social studies

Revamping the social studies syllabus is a good start to bring to the attention of our upper secondary school students the challenges our society is facing ("Revised social studies syllabus tackles hot-button issues"; Jan 6).

Otherwise, these students will be too busy attending to other content-based subjects to spend time reading up on something that will affect their lives more than anything else.

However, like for any other subject, besides grasping the content well, students have to be mature enough to think critically to offer opinions and suggestions.

At 15 or 16, the majority of students do not have that maturity of thought, even if they are hard-working enough to absorb what is provided in the textbook.

This is why O-level students still have a choice of narrative and descriptive topics, besides discussion and argumentative topics, when they take the English language Paper 1, while only the latter two types are given for General Paper at junior college.

Therefore, credit should be given to social studies teachers when they are innovative enough to invent their own pedagogies, such as guiding students to a typical answer with input from students.

It is not an easy job to train students in a class of 40 to think critically when they lack knowledge and maturity.

Perhaps, parents can chip in to help in this respect.

Educated or not, they are mature enough to offer opinions and suggestions to discuss each topic with their children, thus developing their children's critical-thinking skills.

The first step has already been taken.

Let us offer practical suggestions to make the new social studies syllabus a success, instead of harping on pedagogies in an ideal situation.

Yeo Boon Eng (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 04, 2016, with the headline 'Parents, too, can teach kids social studies'. Print Edition | Subscribe