A Leg up for Teaching the Arts and Physical Education

A Leg up for Teaching the Arts and Physical Education

Date
Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Media Type
Today

Singapore - They may be soft skills, but arts and physical education (PE) will now be in sharper focus as Singapore's education evolution moves to the next stage.

The Education Ministry is setting up a Physical Education and Sports Teacher Academy (Pesta) and the Singapore Teachers' Academy for the Arts (Star) to provide quality training and development as well as attachment opportunities for teachers in these fields.

The plans, which were unveiled yesterday by Education Minister Ng Eng Hen at the annual Appointment Ceremony for Principals, are not just about boosting the diverse pathways that have opened up in the system in recent years.

The new academies cement the recognition that arts and PE are a "core deliverable" that the education system should impart to all pupils.

"With better arts, music and PE teachers, students can expect more avenues to develop the full range of their talents," said Dr Ng.

"The PE community can develop a more systematic and effective delivery system to help our students achieve physical wellness and access a wide range of sports and games to develop sportsmanship, teamwork and resilience.

"Similarly through more art, dance and drama, our students can learn to see the world through different lenses, develop their creativity and better express themselves."

For art teachers like Ms Enid Sim, what has been lacking is the exposure to emerging art forms and mediums. She is hopeful that the initiatives could change that.

"There are training courses on pedagogies at the National Institute of Education, but what we don't have are opportunities to take courses in traditional arts like batik painting, or in contemporary art to learn more about art installations, videos ..." said Ms Sim, who is art coordinator at St Margaret's Primary.

"It's important that as teachers we have the skills needed to engage children and develop the next generation of art lovers."

Mr Roy Lee, head of department for PE, Co-Curricular Activities and Aesthetics at River Valley Primary, is keen on engaging with education institutions overseas.

"For example, we wanted to integrate our health and PE curriculum, and we know the Australian education system is very good in that, but we don't even know where to start to link up with them," he said. He also hopes Pesta will help boost the standing of the profession.

But while it is good to "rejuvenate" the skills of PE teachers, former national sprinter C Kunalan said the situation on the ground needs to change, too.

"There's no point giving teachers all that training, and then still only two periods a week to teach ... there's no audience for them," said Mr Kunalan, who is PE and Sports Science assistant professor at the National Institute of Education. "If we have more time for students, we can build the fundamentals."

Meanwhile, the Education Ministry has collected feedback from educators for the tentatively-named Singapore Teachers Centre, which aims to drive professional development.

It will be a one-stop centre for research and resource, and, as teachers suggested, could have Master Teachers appointed full-time to mentor junior educators, said Dr Ng.

A Teacher Work Management Framework has also been established to help principals optimise the deployment of teachers and workload. Schools will have a human resources partner and can turn to the HR Contact Hub for assistance in such matters.

Source: Today, mediacorp