When teachers are the school's bright sparks

Meherdeep Singh (in Superman costume) and Karthikeyan Muthukumar (in Batman costume), both Primary 5 pupils at Bukit View Primary School, demonstrating a science experiment yesterday at the Ministry of Education ExCEL Fest.
Meherdeep Singh (in Superman costume) and Karthikeyan Muthukumar (in Batman costume), both Primary 5 pupils at Bukit View Primary School, demonstrating a science experiment yesterday at the Ministry of Education ExCEL Fest.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Minister urges educators to be role models in pushing frontiers, embracing innovation

To teach science concepts and help their charges understand the subject better, teachers at Bukit View Primary School use drama strategies such as role-playing. For instance, pupils take on a variety of roles such as the heart valves or red blood cells during a lesson on the circulatory system.

Some pupils act as heart valves that open and close. When they open, they let their classmates, who play oxygen-carrying red blood cells, in. These classmates, wearing stickers depicting oxygen, then replace the stickers with those representing carbon dioxide. The school said this approach to teaching science helps pupils develop confidence and communication skills.

Meherdeep Singh, a Primary 5 pupil at the school, said: "When we actually act it out, we remember it."

The school used a video and live show to demonstrate the initiative yesterday at the Ministry of Education (MOE) ExCEL Fest, a platform to showcase and share innovative efforts of schools and the ministry.

Speaking at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre, Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng urged educators to shape the innovation culture in schools. "Nothing is more important than the role modelling of our educators and staff in pushing frontiers and embracing innovation," he said.

SPARKING INTEREST

These innovative techniques can potentially deepen and enrich students' understanding of the subject matter, by sparking a genuine interest in them to inquire and learn beyond the material taught.

DR KELVIN SEAH, National University of Singapore economics lecturer, on the unique approaches to teaching.

Mr Ng added that teaching methods and strategies will evolve, but nothing beats teachers leading by example. He said those who "walk the talk will have a deeper and more lasting impact" on students.

Yesterday, 106 projects received the Innergy Award, which recognises innovative contributions by both schools and MOE.

For instance, Anderson Junior College teachers created an "escape room" - with obstacles and puzzles - where students use their wits and teamwork to escape.

The school received an Innergy Award for the project, which reflects the complex problem-solving process in the real world and encourages students to think out of the box under time constraints.

Eight individuals also received the Outstanding Innovator Award for being key influencers of continual improvement and innovation in the education scene.

To nurture innovators for the future, Mr Ng said educators have to first foster in students an entrepreneurial dare, where they are unafraid to go off the beaten path and are resilient in the face of setbacks. He also urged them to create an environment for students to be inquisitive and reflective, and allow their charges to collaborate with others.

Commenting on the unique approaches to teaching, National University of Singapore economics lecturer Kelvin Seah said: "These innovative techniques can potentially deepen and enrich students' understanding of the subject matter, by sparking a genuine interest in them to inquire and learn beyond the material taught."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2017, with the headline 'When teachers are the school's bright sparks'. Print Edition | Subscribe