For years, Singapore, along with other Asian countries like Japan and South Korea have climbed their way to the top of schools that provide high quality education in the world. Students, even those who come from primary schools in Singapore, top qualification boards and perform better in subjects like Mathematics and Science.
What are Singapore schools doing differently, then? Can schools from other countries adapt their techniques?
Here, we will explore what makes Singapore schools effective and see how we can use it for our classrooms.
Uniform lessons across all levels
Teachers in Singapore schools tend to teach students to pass exams rather than to teach according to their understanding. Of course, this does not mean that a student lagging behind will be left coping on their own. But the instruction reiterates that importance of retaining information, understanding it completely, and applying it in projects and exams.
They make full use of textbooks and worksheets which means students are able to get a lot of practice drills. This further cements their understanding of a lesson and ensures they know how to use it for their exams.
No ‘learning how to learn’ method
Most schools in Singapore usually cover memory techniques and tricks to help students get to the level of understanding required of their grade. This is why the schools do not focus much on adapting to the child’s level of understanding. By teaching them how to maximize different mental tools like illustration or mnemonics, they will always get to the correct answer.
There used to be a time when Singapore’s education regime was strict. They followed a “teaching is talking, listening is learning” type of method which obviously placed a lot of stress on kids.
To address this, schools have incorporated fun activities like cultural tours and even sports events to provide a more holistic education. While it relieves student stress, it also allows them to explore a world beyond the four walls of the classroom.
Let’s take One World International School as an example. Their unique learning framework emphasizes the importance of social values and the important – these are things learnt only through exposure. By giving them the opportunity to talk to the people and the environment they will be “caring” for in the future, they will have a better picture of what they need to be doing once they are in the position to choose their careers.
Adapting Singapore’s teaching method
Much of their instruction starts at a very young age. It involves a lot of nationalistic values like love of their own culture and appreciating their country.
However, this does not exactly mean schools from the West or other Asian countries cannot use this as their reference point. The key is focusing on their holistic framework.
Holistic education involves equipping the students with facts and procedural knowledge and giving them the autonomy to practice it. They can do this through worksheets and drills; but more importantly, they can use what they have learnt through collaborative projects.
Students can then showcase practical application of the lessons and are also practicing their social skills by making them work in groups to solve a societal problem. This also encourages their creativity in problem solving and strengthens their resolve to improve the world’s living conditions.