Teacher's headline act scores well

Mr Edwin Wan holding up a copy of The Straits Times as he unveils his predictions during a session in Yio Chu Kang Primary School last Wednesday. The head of the English language department hopes to motivate pupils to want to find out more about thin
Mr Edwin Wan holding up a copy of The Straits Times as he unveils his predictions during a session in Yio Chu Kang Primary School last Wednesday. The head of the English language department hopes to motivate pupils to want to find out more about things.ST PHOTO: MELINDA JANIKA

Prediction of headlines sparks pupils' interest in reading papers

A teacher at Yio Chu Kang Primary School recently did something even The Straits Times editor cannot do: He predicted the headlines that would appear in the April 18 edition of the paper two weeks in advance.

Last week, Mr Edwin Wan unveiled, with a flourish, the sealed predictions that had been kept in the principal's office, to the gasps and applause of the Primary 4 to 6 pupils of the school.

The head of the English language department is known for performing magic tricks to spark pupils' interest in reading, part of the school's promoting English culture to pupils programme.

This time, he was trying to get the pupils to become interested in reading the newspapers daily.

He hoped to give the children "a sense of fascination and wonder".

"It's the motivation to want to find out more... not necessarily in magic (like me), but in other places as well, like science or language," the 38-year-old teacher said.

INTEREST SPARKED

It made me more interested to read more news to find out what is happening around me, and maybe I can also predict what may happen in the future.

JULIAN ONG YU YANG, 10, on his reaction to Mr Wan's performance.

Preparation began two months before the performance, in February.

Earlier this month, on April 4, Mr Wan addressed pupils on the function of headlines and newsworthiness during an assembly session.

Producing a sealed envelope of his written predictions, he had three student leaders sign on it - to prove later that it was not tampered with. Then, he gave it to the school principal, Mr Ng Aik Boon, for safekeeping in his office.

Last Wednesday, in front of more than 500 pupils in the school hall, Mr Wan brought out a black briefcase labelled "Top Secret". Propped on a stand was a copy of the day's The Straits Times.

Taking out the sealed envelope from the briefcase, Mr Ng opened it. As Mr Ng read the predicted headlines, Mr Wan pointed out the identical headlines in the newspaper - "SMRT chief stepping down after 51/2 years in charge" and "High-tech job portal to ensure better match".

Mr Wan was coy when asked about the secret to the trick, saying only that a mix of gimmicks, pre-planning, preparation and sleight of hand was involved.

When asked if the magic performance had sparked an interest in reading the news, Primary 4 pupil Julian Ong Yu Yang, 10, said: "Yes, because it was extraordinary that the headlines were predicted.

"It made me more interested to read more news to find out what is happening around me, and maybe I can also predict what may happen in the future."

This is not the last news-related trick Mr Wan has up his sleeve.

He will carry out a second one soon: Over the next few weeks, pupils will look for news stories that interest them, write down the headlines and summaries of the stories, and submit them to their teachers.

He will pick a few pupils and predict the news they selected.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 23, 2018, with the headline 'Teacher's headline act scores well'. Print Edition | Subscribe