Friday, 18 January 2013

Montessori Education : The GEP of Preschool Education

GEP stands for Gifted Education Programme in Singapore. Based on the Ministry of Education's webbie > Gifted Education Programme,  it aims to nurture the intellectually gifted to their full potential.
Here's the gist.
All children in Singapore schools are being offered the opportunity to sit for a GEP Test at Primary 3. These children are between 8 to 9 years of age. There are two rounds to this test, namely the Screening Test (open to all) and the Selection Test (only for students who successfully clear Round 1).
Yes. Parents who are not interested can opt out. Parents like myself and hubs who just want the children to have a shot at it for exposure and for fun's sake, we just hop on the bandwagon with the rest of the children in the cohort. DD2 said if she was "lucky", she could get out of this neighbourhood school she is in to have a shot at one of the more prestigious primary schools in Singapore. Suffice to say, she was not that lucky of course. LOL!  Nevertheless, she continues to have hunger for knowledge and I try to facilitate her swift-evolving interests as much as I can. I try to... *gulp*
As the GEP test questions are supposedly hush-hush, parents usually only find out the nature of the tests' contents from their own children. Provided of course, the children themselves wish to discuss it post-testing. Mine both said the paper was difficult and couldn't remember anything much about it and that was that. We never pursued nor tried to engage them again with regards to it. They didn't seem keen either! LOL!  

It is believed that the selected students have something innate in them that showcase an (x-factor) ability to learn differently from other children. It could be a little about accelerated learning... that they can absorb higher learning material. It has been perceived that these children are the ones who can think out of the box which is why the aim of the programme is to facilitate a differentiated learning programme where children are given the opportunity to question the way things are, be involved in project work, be exposed to higher order thinking skills (just to name a few..)and aside from all this privileges, these national top students (1-2%) also get to enjoy having a smaller class size (as opposed to the normal 40 in a class) as an added advantage. 
This programme can open many doors for the students later on in their academic journey in Singapore. For starters, children who wish to accept and undertake this mode of learning are transferred to the GEP Schools made available to them.
To understand more about the Singapore Gifted Education Programme, you can scroll up to the 1st web link which can lead you to a broad scope of the GEP. This post is not meant to discuss, critique, evaluate, disparage, compliment or anything at all in relation to the Gifted Education Programme. No siree.
This post is meant to showcase (alongside this Gifted Education Programme) why Montessori Education stays relevant till today... with children so knowledgable yet forever hungry (for more!).. why our children remain confident yet grounded... why our Montessorian children excel not just in lifelong learning but life itself.


Because no two children are alike. 
Because in Montessori Education, 
no child gets left behind.
Montessori Education as we know it, allows for a freedom to learn within a child's unique pace and to explore the innate qualities within the child and to nurture the desire to learn beyond the classroom and books. 

In the next few paragraphs, I highlight the key factors why Montessori Education has long been ahead when it comes to educating our young the right way.
In this link here > GEP : Rationale and Goals, the factor (marked in red) of the programme's implementation in 1984 is a stark telling of the profound & in-depth research and observation of children and the nature of her pedagogy which was carried out way before I was even born.
There are 2 main reasons for implementing the GEP in Singapore:
  1. The Educational Factor

    It has been recognised that children have varying abilities and it is not a sound practice to give every child the same education and expect him/her to move at the same pace as his/her peers. The intellectually gifted need a high degree of mental stimulation. This need may not be met in the mainstream classroom and the gifted child may become mediocre, indifferent or disruptive in class.
The following few pointers (again marked in red) are yet again more affirmations of the sound method of education designed by Dr Maria Montessori.

Goals of the GEP
The aim of the GEP is to develop intellectual rigour, humane values and creativity in gifted youths to prepare them for responsible leadership and service to country and society.
The goals of the GEP are as follows:
  • to develop intellectual depth and higher level thinking
  • to nurture productive creativity
  • to develop attitudes for self-directed lifelong learning
  • to enhance aspirations for individual excellence and fulfilment
  • to develop a strong social conscience and commitment to serve society and nation
  • to develop moral values and qualities for responsible leadership
In the next link in GEP : Enrichment Model, the content drawn from here... ALL the 4 areas of the differentiated curriculum points to almost everything within what is covered in the Montessori Method of Education except the fact that Montessori Method of Education has not 4 but 5 areas and each encompassing an in-depth learning exploration experience for ALL our Montessorian children.

Yes. ALL. Because no child has to conform to a group's norm, no child has to circumscribe around everyone's else's expectations, no child has to play catch up and yet they can absorb knowledge beyond their years and they don't get left behind unlike if they had been placed in a rote-learning mainstream environment. In a child-centric environment, the Montessori Method of Education greatly satisfies the different learning style of each and every Montessorian child. 

The Montessori Education thus assures us of the one thing that even the Gifted Education Programme can't. 

That no child gets left behind.

Hence concluding the superiority of the Montessori Education in the preschool industry making it the GEP of Preschool Education.

Where the nation fell short (ranked 29th) in the Lien Foundation : Starting Well Index,  I am sure it did not include Montessori Education.

It will bode well for the Ministry to look into the gaps of mainstream preschool education within the industry as it has been hotly discussed in the papers, in the forums and within the community at large that the most available preschool education has been touted to under-prepare our children for the rigours of primary school education. Many parents seek recourse in result of the lack of this much-talked about readiness.

By urgently reviewing the standards and the needs of the preschool education (not at all in reference to teachers' upgrading), can the Ministry then help to fill the gaps that many of our children seem to fall into (these days) that may have them (the Ministry) think, the stress of parents are misplaced.

I for one have been invited to start a Math Department for Learning Support Programme (LSP) students in a few primary schools. If Montessori Education had been a part of our preschool education children, there is no need for any learning support because simply said : our Montessorian children excel in Math.

Link to : Learning Support Programme

If I were to detail the strengths of the Montessori Education, this would be a long and dreary post.

Suffice to say that it is about time the Ministry recognize and endorse Montessori Education. This I find, is something waaaayyy overdue.

Failing which, the future of the nation can only be depicted just like this scenario below.


With the Montessori Method of Education, every child is gifted in their own way and they do not need a GEP test to tell them so. The method speaks for itself.

“It is true that we cannot make a genius. We can only give to teach the child the chance to fulfil his potential possibilities.” ~ Dr Maria Montessori ~

3 comments:

  1. Hello, I'm so happy with your blog site, it contains all the matter with regards to preschol Good luck to you and your well performed job. Thanks for keeping us updated with the latest information for preschool.
    Top Playschool Franchisee,
    Preschool,
    Top Pre Primary Education In India

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    Replies
    1. Hello nilima, I'm so happy you dropped by. Apart from my interest in fun learning ideas for children, I hope to keep updating this blog to journal my thoughts about the journey of Singapore education (early education for now) with all my 4 children.

      They just grow up so fast...

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  2. Oh, I forgot to add that I wish to extend my personal BEST WISHES on your future endeavours in building up your preschool franchise in India.

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