In this issue, Professor Allan Luke, Dean of CRPP, introduces the work we are doing in Singapore schools and tells SingTeach readers what to expect from us.
Greetings, SingTeach readers!
I have had the opportunity to meet many of you in meetings and classrooms over the last two years that I have been working in NIE. On behalf of all of us at CRPP and NIE, I want to thank those of you who have so generously provided us with your support.
Singapore is one of the most education-obsessed places in the world and, as the pages of the newspaper and parents’ responses at gatherings remind us, everybody, from parents to politicians to taxi drivers, are experts on the schools – what they do well, what ails them, what to fix, and where to go next.
We want to move out of the realm of “mythologies” about education. To do so, we need something more than policy and determination, intuition, and will to do so. We need research.
Is it possible?
I would understand if readers have one of the following cynical reactions:
- that the system is the way it is, and will never change; or
- that research is something that is done by people with PhDs who are oblivious to what goes on in classrooms with kids on an everyday basis.
Both reactions are understandable.
I have worked in education for over 30 years, training as a Canadian primary school teacher in 1975. As a certified baby-boomer, I, too, have become tired and cynical of every new wave of reform that hits the staff rooms, especially after living through one official reform after another, and listening to publishers and in-service promoters provide us with successive waves of “latest” developments and innovations.
It is easy to just say: The more things change, the more they stay the same. Furthermore, if you browse the pages of research publications, it is often hard to see the connection between the work done by university-based researchers and the lives of teachers, students, and parents who are struggling with intense pressures to succeed, to get ahead and, at times, to just get by in what seems to be an increasingly competitive educational environment.
Research in education
Our work at CRPP – and through SingTeach – is to show what research can do. As you know, we have been observing classroom teaching and learning in over 40 schools. We have also begun surveying opinions, attitudes, hopes, and aspirations of teachers and students in over 100 schools, polytechnics, and universities.
There are now over 70 researchers at CRPP, which is officially the largest funded educational research centre in the world. Our mission is to work with you to take Singapore education and schools to the “next level”.
This is not a matter of “telling you” how to do your business – you are the core of the educational professionals, and among the best teachers in the world. Rather, we seek to hold a mirror up to Singapore schools so that we all can break out of some of the cynicism and paralysis that can occur when we buy into “mythologies”.
It is about bringing to the light of day examples of “best practice” out there – innovations in the field that can make the work of teachers and students in classrooms easier and better and more productive. It is also about sharing with you how you can apply research methods and techniques in your own work.
The data and information that you have so generously provided us is being processed now, and has already been the subject of briefings to senior policymakers. We have begun describing in detail what is really occurring in classrooms and schools, and in our students’ and teachers’ lives. There are answers to be found in research, and you will be reading more about it in later editions of SingTeach.
Through SingTeach, we hope to provide you with websites, resources, and common sense “tips” on how to unlock the power of research in your classrooms. So hang with us, visit our website, email us, and join our discussion groups. Tell us when you think we are missing the boat, and push us by calling our attention to those new directions in classrooms that we need to have a look at.
For more information on CRPP and our research projects, please visit http://www.crpp.nie.edu.sg