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What do we want from our teachers: An Answer from Singapore

1 September 2009 12,832 No Comment

“Singapore Teachers: Lead. Care. Inspire.”

This is the vision statement recently unveiled by the Ministry of Education (MOE) in Singapore for its teachers. Since 2008, the MOE has engaged in a nationwide effort to develop a vision for the teaching profession that express “the aspiration of the professionals and points the way forward,” according to a speech by Ms. Ho Peng, Director-General of Education of the Ministry of Education delivered on August 26, 2009. The MOE worked with teachers and school leaders to identify the core values and aspirations of educators. “By July this year, most if not all teachers had been engaged at the school level. Altogether, some 28,000 teachers were involved.”

I am not only very impressed with the content of the vision statement but also, and perhaps more, impressed with the process, especially when considering what and how the U.S. Department of Education is doing to teachers in the U.S..

Singapore is a country that has been admired for its strong showings in international tests such as TIMSS since the 1990s. But it has been drastically changing its education system and culture to promote more autonomy, flexibility, and trust for teachers so to inspire innovations in the classroom. Two other major initiatives Singapore has undertaken over the past two decades highlighted by MS. Peng:

1997: Thinking Schools, Learning Nation (TSLN).  “TSLN gave school leaders greater autonomy in terms of school management. We moved away from a top-down approach.”

2005: Teach Less, Learn More (TLLM). “Teachers were encouraged to innovate in teaching and learning. The purpose was to make sure that learning was meaningful and enjoyable to all our students.”

You can read the whole speech here:

And here is a story about this initiative:

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