Contributed by Marshall Cavendish Education
What might be needed for us to push Singapore education to the next level? Marshall Cavendish Education, a company that produces educational solutions, gives us their take.
The world is changing at a much faster pace than we have ever seen before. In order to stay abreast with the global trends, educators need to adapt their way of teaching to ensure students are well equipped and ready for what the future holds for them.
What are the right moves for schools and educators so their methods remain relevant? With online education and digital learning on the rise, what will the future classroom be like? What about teachers? How will their role evolve?
Moving towards Shared Identity
With globalization – cross-border movements of workers from more stagnant markets to developing markets with stronger growth opportunities, or those from rural areas relocating domestically to bigger cities to find jobs – major and more affluent cities in the world will see their population diversify in terms of culture, religious belief, mother tongue and ethnicity.
This is already very much evident in countries like the US, where students of ethnic minorities are expected to make up 46% of its student population by 2020 (Pallas, Natriello & McDill, 1989), the UK, Australia and Singapore.
To be ready for this phenomenon, we now need to incorporate educational content that helps guide students towards a shared identity and focus on diversity. To facilitate this process, we have to create educational programmes that offer valuable support to educators and learners.
Rise of the Digital Natives
The Information Age that started in the 1990s kick-started a new mind-set that everything needs to be available at our finger-tips, and content has to be real-time. Facebook and other social media platforms have turned everyone into a content generator, and offer numerous possibilities for collaboration and multi-channel conversations and partnerships.
Going to school is no longer about teachers loading students with theories, facts and figures, but a two-way conversation between teachers and students, or interaction amongst students, and not always in a face-to-face environment.
We are seeing the rise of a generation of digital natives, one that has not only grown up around technology, but use and experience it to a much wider and deeper extent than before.
To them, technology offers much more than just entertainment. It is their window to the world, news and learning. Education solutions of the future that do not offer this level of interactivity or dynamism would remain but a memory to them. Education tools or solutions need to inspire and satisfy the needs of digital natives who demand answers quickly but with thorough reasoning, and have a preference for personalized learning so they can develop into their own unique individual.
Balanced Use of Technology
The use of computers to aid learning is now common in the classroom, but a recent article in September 2015 by the BBC (Coughlan, 2015) picked up on a global study by The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that “investing heavily in school computers and classroom technology does not improve pupils’ performance.”
The report listed Singapore as a “moderate” user of technology in school, but we are ranked first in digital skills. For us, it is a priority to ensure traditional and new digital teaching methods are integrated and there is balanced, curated used of technology in schools.
This is where the role of teachers becomes paramount; they have to become effective facilitators of the learning journey. Learning is optimized when students feel engaged and enjoy the experience. Students need to develop skills to use knowledge creatively and critically, and not just “cut and paste prefabricated homework answers from the Internet” as OECD Education Director Andreas Schleicher said (Coughlan, 2015).
To (digital natives), technology offers much more than just entertainment. It is their window to the world, news and learning. Education solutions of the future that do not offer this level of interactivity or dynamism would remain but a memory to them.
– Marshall Cavendish Education
Teaching the Next Generation
CNN published the article in October 2015 “Why Singapore has the smartest kids in the world” and credited with the quality of the teachers in the country as the reason behind this accolade (Sealy, 2015). While the dynamic quality resources certainly play a big part, teachers themselves need to be creative and passionate about how they want to help students.
Teaching practices cannot stay stagnant, but would need to evolve, be creative and dynamic to nurture generations of creative and critical thinkers.
While it isn’t our remit to advice educators and learners on which route to take, it is within our area of expertise to help develop educational solutions, so whichever path a student decides to follow, he or she will come out the other end as ready, hungry and interested.
With the pace at which the world is evolving, we are in unison with global views to gradually push towards an increasingly standardized curriculum where children around the same age across the globe will have similar understanding and levels of knowledge.
However, for Singapore and other developed nations at least, we recognize every learner is different and we can leverage on technology already in place, our experience and resources to ensure each student gets a customized learning experience so they are much better equipped to pursue their own dreams.
Coughlan, S. (2015, September 15). Computers ‘do not improve’ pupil results, says OECD. BBC News. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/business-34174796
Pallas, A. M., Natriello, G.,& McDill, E. L. (1989). The changing nature of the disadvantaged population: Current dimensions and future trends. Educational Researcher, 18 (5), 16–22.
Sealy, A. (2015, October 9). Why Singapore has the smartest kids in the world. CNN. Retrieved from http://edition.cnn.com/2015/10/05/asia/singapore-smartest-kids/
IPSOS Business Consulting. (2012). Education content of the future. Retrieved from Marshall Cavendish Education website: http://www.mceducation.com/docs/default-source/research/education-content-of-the-future_final-2012.pdf?sfvrsn=2.