MOE learning portal a big step forward
It is with some excitement that I read about the Singapore Student Learning Space (SSLS) developed by the Ministry of Education (MOE). The online platform will enable students to learn and revise at their own pace anywhere by logging in with a username and password.
If the noble aim of education is to help every child develop his or her potential to its fullest, the portal is a step in the right direction. Students do not learn at the same pace. Putting a diverse group of students through a common programme and expecting the same level of results from every one of them can lead to a disinclination towards learning for those who are falling behind.
How times have changed. I recall teaching English to a class of Secondary 4 students with very different capabilities 40 years ago. You cannot help everyone, I was told, so focus on the few you think can be saved.
It was harsh reality in an environment obsessed with success. For many of the students, it would seem help came too late, yet any teacher wanting to make a difference, no matter how small, should never submit to that belief. It would be defeatist, if
Ultimately, the greatest gift that any teacher can give his or her students is the motivation to never stop learning, inside or outside school.
not unconscionable. I devised a reading box made up of picture stories cut out from discarded magazines, colour-coded and graded for different levels of difficulty. It was not part of the syllabus, but a primitive construction before computerisation made an impact on our lives.
There were three key elements in the design. First, to be able to engage the students’ interest in a certain subject or point of view, and pique their curiosity so that they will want to ask questions and be motivated to want to find out more. This is because engagement creates a positive bias towards the content or material being studied.
Second, to provide a gratifying sense of achievement, which will in turn motivate the students to continue learning. This, in a way, puts wanting to learn in the hands of the students instead of forcing them to learn. Experts have said nothing beats self-motivated learning. Third, to allow the students to progress at their own pace.
DIFFERENT STROKES FOR DIFFERENT FOLKS
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said in 2012, when he was Education Minister, that “we must be studentcentric in our delivery ... creating opportunities for all regardless of their family background”.