This blog is for teachers, parents, students, and anyone who wonders about the purpose of school and the direction of education in the 21st century. It examines issues in contemporary parenting and education, often with a cross-cultural angle.
Graduations remind me of diving boards: parents and teachers become spectators, waiting to see each student jump, spring, and dive into ...
Saturday, 20 August 2016
WHAT TEACHERS IN SINGAPORE KNOW: 5 LESSONS
Here's a blog post that I recently wrote for Ed Week's Global Learning section. I hope you enjoy it!
And a taster extract:
Lesson #1: Lesson #1: Educators don't need to accommodate short attention spans; we need to train kids to extend their attention spans.
Many of the Singaporean educators I spoke with, particularly elementary school teachers, described the benefits of making young kids complete long and demanding academic tasks. Kids spend hours learning how to write thousands of complex Chinese characters. From grade two onward, they take exams that last for 90 minutes in each of their four major subjects. Yes, that's right: seven year oldscan sit down and concentrate on math for an hour and a half.
When I expressed surprise (or shock and horror, to be more precise) over this, parents and educators agreed that Singaporean kids experience significant educational stress because of the exam system, but none of them seemed to think that it was asking too much to make a young child sit down and focus on a single task for an hour and a half. "These tests and activities help train our children to shut out distractions, focus their minds, and concentrate," said one teacher. Said a parent, "It is important to teach our children to focus for extended periods of time. That's a very important skill."