Monday, 15 July 2013

Teach Less, Learn More

I'm on the fence with this never-ending issue 
with our ministry proposed style of teaching.. Image but am going to offer some of my personal sharings based on how our education system fared for my children & I since its implementation... with my not so powderful England. :wink: 


"TLLM would mean less dependence on rote learning, repetitive tests and a ‘one size fits all’ type of instruction, and more on experiential discovery, engaged learning, differentiated teaching, the learning of life-
long skills, and the building of character through innovative and effective teaching approaches and strategies."

The above is taken from the official website marking the Milestones In Singapore Education.

For as long as i could remember, parents here have been complaining of the many assessments and tests and more tests on top the rote styled learning of yesteryears.. Hence upon the many feedbacks and research done by MOE, it finally chop to endorse the Teach Less, Learn More method in schools. When it was first piloted however, not all schools started this method at the same time... good in a way cause the method can be refined further as it went along. As with any new programmes, new teachers, new baby (etc)... it takes time for the new idea to sink in with the children, their parents (us) and definitely even with the teaching personnel. It's akin to an 
instance where the Teach Less part was married off with the Learn More. As with any marriage, again, it takes time to reach the stage where things hit off & slowly move into auto pilot mode. The method was cynically viewed 
as we all know how teaching in schools have always been rote learning = sit-down-face-whiteboard-listen-to-teacher kinda learning... so how in the world would a teacher even begin to fathom the idea of teaching less of the required curriculum within the same time frame? 

Teaching Less 

As per what the website indicated... Teach Less, Learn More is about teaching better, to engage our learners and prepare them for life, rather than teaching more, for tests and examinations. 

Now, how do teachers go around teaching less to begin with and yet complete the curriculum proper? How to ensure there's quality teaching as opposed to the then quantity teaching which equates to long draggy periods of lecture mode? The answer is, the teachers themselves gotta learn more... for that is the only way to approach the method imposed on them as 
constructive as possible. 

In view of this change, teachers supposedly go for training to facilitate this new idea of teaching the syllabus. I like to add that i see this idea pumped more into the lower primary in the beginning.. Teaching less to engage our new learners at P1/P2 levels does offer a holistic dimension that aimed to benefit children of all the different types of learning abilities, pre-taught knowledge, family backgrounds (etc). The modes of assessment go beyond pen and paper based exams, which in reality bodes well for majority of the average learners within our communities who can afford only basic kindergarten education, which at this juncture is still not compulsory but... definitely highly encouraged. 

What's different for learners at this stage? My DD2 came into this method the moment she entered her little feet to formal primary education and i for one tried to look at this new idea positively & was drawn into this new 
idea with teachers who must've ploughed thru' sleepless nites preparing their lessons... for teaching less only means they have waaaayy more to prepare to ensure that the young learners are indeed engaged. 

The teachers in the school (neighbourhood sch by the way)... :love: lovingly prepared a whole semester of events and activities for the children and guess what...? Also for the parents! Yes, you didn't hear me or rather 
read me wrongly... parents are given more opportunities to learn together with our children on the different areas of learning and assessments and were advised on the rubrics at the beginning of the first term. Parents were given more opportunities to work hand in hand with the children, the school 
and the teachers with alternative teaching modes. Children got to work in groups, in pairs and also individually which in a nutshell allowed children to work on leadership skills, interaction skills, public speaking skills and also skills that enable them to think out of the box... which many parents have emphasized our local children lack due to the then labeled as the stifling-textbook-manner of teaching children. Cookie cutter mode some said. This opening up to parents was definitely a new thing for us and a big hit with most parents as schools are usually seen as a closed-door instituition. With Teach Less parents also get to learn more about what's being carried out in our children's classes & how they are being assessed. 

Show & Tell... Project Work... Charity Work... Exhibitions... IT Learning... Field Trips/Learning Journeys… Class Presentations... Stage Performances.. 

The above were a few of the new ideas my child and i have enjoyed with this Teach Less method in place. Did it meet our expectations? In our 
opinion, YES! My child loved school... looked forward going to school and absorbed all the fun ideas without so much as having to study for exams.. but study to really learn... and not just classroom textbook based lessons 
but also out of classroom experiences that they truly enjoyed. Children got to work in the garden for early science exposure, went to the Science Ctr for follow-up and submitted a group project for class presentation and 
finally showcased their ideas with a mini exhibition. Yes... my little girl actually did all that. And learnt so much from the experiences... This would not have been possible if the education system kept to its old school whiteboard-based learning where the teachers are always rushing to finish the curriculum and pile children with endless homeworks that they in turn have to mark, which adds to their list of to-dos as well. 

For Language, children got to visit the library more often as classes take turns to sit down and watch drama skits... participate in drama classes... listen to story-tellers... exposed to more books and yes get opportunities to tell about the books they read (the teachers introduce books appropriate for their level) and also get to rate how interesting the books are based on their genre of interest. Funny books and retold stories got the most thumbs up, so i've heard. :wink: 

Parents enjoyed Reading Night where all of us 
came with our books and picnic mats and snacks... crowded the school hall to listen to engaging story-tellers from the National Library... be awestruck by the children's performances and choral reading based on the 
Stellar books covered for the term... a lotta work i tell you, but... our children learn. Grammar contents were covered by the given Stellar worksheets and more from teacher-prepared materials that encompassed the specific grammar rules that was to be covered in the curriculum plan handed out to parents during the first term. 

Children were assessed based on classroom participation, how they behave, how they helped peers and teachers alike, how they understood what was delivered in and outside of the classroom, topical papers based on monthly theme/book (etc... etc...) too many to name but in short everyone gets to shine and excel in the attributes-variant where it isn't just paper based.. But yes... Teachers are still expected to cover the curriculum proper ie. textbooks & activity/workbooks on top of all those fun activities. 

Gotta end this sharing here for now for i gotta fetch my DD1 from supplementary class which is another fun extra the sch is providing... will share more if my sharings can provide the different perspective to what TLLM has to offer. 

To end this sharing, my girls and i evaluated the method... and the end result? Did they really learn more? 

Happy to note, i got a resounding YESSSS! 

PS : As with any human-reliant industry... it is with profound knowledge that we all know "the teacher" plays a huuuuge part in ensuring this TLLM method to be a successful one. While there are still way too many teachers who do indeed go bo-chap on us and the children 
(yes, i have experience and can really shame the teacher if i really want to.. :x) it's only fair that we give due credit to the ones who truly truly truly and relentlessly make it work... and in my case... it worked big time! :celebrate:

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