Channelling an Icon: Goodwin inaugurates Singapore's Dr Ruth Wong Hie King visiting professorship in teacher education

Channelling an Icon: Goodwin inaugurates Singapore's Dr Ruth Wong Hie King visiting professorship in teacher education

Date
Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Media Type
TC Columbia University (Online)

When A. Lin Goodwin was an aspiring young educator studying in Singapore, she wasn’t yet aware of Ruth Wong – but she has since come to understand the significance of the name and the legacy associated with it. 

“She was the country’s most revered educator – someone whose stature there paralleled that of John Dewey in the United States,” says Goodwin, TC Vice Dean and Evenden Professor of Education. 

Thus for Goodwin, serving as the inaugural Dr. Ruth Wong Visiting Professor of Teacher Education at Singapore’s National Institute of Education (NIE), held special meaning – particularly this past summer, when, by happy coincidence, Singapore celebrated Wong’s legacy and marked the 50th anniversary of its independence. 

“As a teacher educator, there is no greater honor for than to be associated with Dr. Wong, who is Singapore’s teacher educator extraordinaire,” said Goodwin, who is co-founder and Co-Director of an M.A. program in Leadership and Educational Change, jointly operated by Teachers College and Singapore’s National Institute of Education (NIE). 

Wong, who died in 1982, was the first director of the Institute of Education, now NIE. Under her leadership, the concept of “teacher training” in Singapore evolved into that of “teacher education.” She introducing a multi-disciplinary approach to the nation’s curriculum to prepare teachers, for the first time placing as much emphasis on building teachers’ professional competence as on ensuring students’ growth. She was also an early advocate of collaborative learning and of the use of research-based assignments to replace examinations.

At Harvard, where she earned her doctorate in 1962, Wong was made a member of the Pi Lambda Theta Honor Society of Women in Education. She was also a Fellow of the World Academy of Arts and Sciences, an inductee to Singapore’s Women’s Hall of Fame, and served as President of the National Council of Girls' Brigades. 

In her inaugural Dr. Ruth Wong Visiting Professorship Lecture, “Teachers of Quality for the 31st Century: Transforming Teacher Education to Meet the (Unknown) Future,” Goodwin highlighted five knowledge domains that all teachers should have, regardless of which millennium they happen to be working in: personal, contextual, pedagogical, sociological and social knowledge. She called for the development of “teachers who adopt a curriculum-making mindset instead of a curriculum implementation one,” and who can thus be “architects of change and not simply passive bystanders.”

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