Tuesday, May 26, 2015Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Making the best use of teachers' time

Published on Jul 4, 2014 7:14 AM

Singapore teachers are a precious resource, especially those who love to teach and are demonstrably good at it. Collectively, they are among the most hard-working in the world, as noted by the Teaching and Learning International Survey, carried out by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. The trouble is the time they spend teaching is lower than the global average. This is cause for concern.

Non-teaching tasks might be necessary but what matters ultimately are the time teachers spend uplifting young minds and shaping character, and the quality of their work as reflected in the educational progress of their students.

The role of teachers in overseeing the transformation of Singapore's education system can hardly be overestimated. A degree of deferential rote-learning accompanied the education system's efforts to churn out the capable workers needed urgently during the early phase of industrialisation. That era is long past. The challenge now is to produce citizens who possess not only the functional skills required by a globalised job market but also the inquisitive mindset and tenacious spirit needed to cope with the unfamiliar and unstructured.

These students are being produced by teachers who are aware of the demands of a world in economic and intellectual flux. The fact that many of the teachers are themselves young helps them to grasp and empathise with their students' predicament. But seasoned hands are also essential, of course, to ensure that educational benchmarks are met.

Enjoy 2 weeks of unlimited digital access to The Straits Times. Get your free access now!