Share IP best practices with mainstream schools

Many students have, no doubt, benefited from the Integrated Programme ("Traits of a suitable IP student" by Miss Charlieze Tan; Forum Online, Sunday).

IP students enjoy a more holistic education and need not spend curriculum time preparing for examinations.

At Raffles Institution, students are even able to go on a gap semester to do work attachments or study abroad.

Such a progressive education model and exposure to alternative ideas and paradigms have led to many IP students innovating and questioning the status quo.

Singapore's education system has often been castigated for not focusing enough on creativity and critical thinking.

Instead of limiting the benefits of an IP education to only the academic elite, the methods used in the programme - such as project-based learning and creative education - should be further built into the mainstream school curriculum so that these benefits can be accessible to more students.

Unlike Miss Tan, I do not think that there is an ideal type of student for an IP-style curriculum.

Time management skills and academic consistency should be as important, if not more so, than book smarts and performance in standardised tests.

Project-based learning and social confidence hone practical skills that are crucial to a knowledge-based economy.

It is important that all students be equipped with such skills to function effectively in this new economy and in life.

Such a method of instruction would also increase interest in learning. Educational experts have pointed out that an education focused on test preparation often alienates students from learning.

Meanwhile, a teaching style that encourages critical thinking, such as that used in the IP, promotes a questioning attitude towards life and education, thus fostering interest in inquiry. This should be encouraged for all students.

Critical thinking and holistic education are crucial life skills - let us share the IP's best practices, instead of limiting them to only a small group of students.

Ng Qi Siang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 11, 2015, with the headline 'Share IP best practices with mainstream schools'. Print Edition | Subscribe