Thursday, July 25, 2013

Learning from Singapore: Part 1

Singapore is one of the highest-performing nations on international standardized tests. In fact, it is one of the few countries that out-performs Massachusetts on the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS). However, Singapore is also concerned that their education system has an over-emphasis on standardized testing and not enough development of creativity and critical thinking (something many experts in Singapore argue the U.S. does better). To address this, the Singapore Ministry of Education has pushed for a more "student-centric" education system. They have encouraged their teachers to "teach less," so that students might "learn more." However, the story is quite different in the United States, which continues to increase its emphasis on standardized testing. As a result, there is more emphasis on math, science, and literacy, at the expense of social studies, world languages, art, and other subjects. Meanwhile, Singapore has not only continued to support a robust history education curriculum for its students, but it has increased emphasis on civics education.

In an attempt to exchange ideas with Singaporean teachers and teacher educators, I will soon be traveling there to learn first-hand about their education system. I will be meeting with Ministry of Education officials, master teachers, and social studies education professors at the National Institute of Education to gain a better understanding of their social studies curriculum and teaching practices. I hope to focus on their views of history education and teacher education. I also hope to share my work in social studies education, teacher education, and my advocacy for teacher research. Over the next month, I will use this blog to reflect on what I am learning as a teacher, teacher educator, and researcher in Singapore.

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