Those who make switch to teaching have much to offer

Ms Michelle Elizabeth Rajlal conducting a contemporary literature class at Tanjong Katong Secondary School.
Ms Michelle Elizabeth Rajlal conducting a contemporary literature class at Tanjong Katong Secondary School.ST PHOTO: YEO KAI WEN

Teachers play a pivotal role in the development of our younger generation, and the number of teachers we have is just one factor to consider in our continuing efforts to work towards a world-class and effective education system ("MOE cuts back on hiring teachers"; last Thursday).

It is time for the ministry to consider hiring more mid-career professionals who want to become teachers.

These mid-career switchers bring with them three key values that a fresh graduate does not possess: working experience, maturity and a potentially clearer focus on their career direction, which in turn bringscommitment and passion.

Mid-career switchers can also introduce their perspectives of how to apply classroom learning to the workplace - this will jump-start students' learning of the importance of skills acquisition.

The Ministry of Education must also utilise more innovative recruitment methods and tools in its hiring process to better understand the character, values and motivation of job applicants. These methods could include psychological profiling, investigative social media checks and professional interviewers.

The quality of our teachers must continue to rise. Quality, in this case, is defined as an appropriate level of subject matter expertise, the ability to effectively impart knowledge and a clear understanding of the role of a teacher.

Teachers must be all-round educators, nurturing students to be holistic, well-balanced young adults. We expect nothing less.

Paul Heng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2015, with the headline 'Those who make switch to teaching have much to offer'. Print Edition | Subscribe