A Pioneer Educator
Tuesday, 01 September 2015
NIE News, September 2015, http://www.nie.edu.sg/nienews/sep15/?q=contents/pioneer_educator_mr_iskandar_jalil
By Ms Amanda Tan, Ms Michelle Chan, Ms Nurul Asyikin Bte Muzlan, Ms Alicia Wee Su Ping and Ms Suhaila Binte Mazlan, Bachelor of Arts (Education)
Above: Our students benefited greatly from the words of wisdom offered by Mr Iskandar Jalil
In 1962, Mr Iskandar Jalil graduated from Teachers’ Training College (TTC) located at Paterson Road where he initially trained to be a Mathematics and Science teacher.
Asked to describe how TTC was like in the 1960s, Mr Iskandar wittily called it “a Teachers’ Torture Chamber”. Then, it was compulsory to be well-versed in every subject taught in schools – from English, Mathematics and Science to Art and Physical Education. Though daunting, he thought this is a critical approach for teachers then to be competent in every field. Trainee teachers then kept to a strict hectic schedule between training classes and studying and teaching in schools. But he added that trainees always shared a deep and common passion – to teach. He also likened the bond shared with his peers and teachers as one much like a close-knit family and efforts were specially made to set time aside for enjoyable activities together like playing volleyball or camping at Telok Paku.
It was also at TTC that Mr Iskandar discovered his initial love for clay during a pottery class – a passion that eventually led to his now master ceramist reputation as one of today’s giants in the local art scene. He later attained the Colombo Plan Scholarship by the Public Service Commission in 1972 that brought him to Tajimi, Japan – Japan’s pottery culture mecca.
He also fondly recalls that the most significant part of being a teacher is the strong bond he shares with his students. Adding that to walk a day in his students’ shoes is a privilege in knowing how to bring the best learning experiences for each child. As a trainee and teacher, he also highly values the act of sharing knowledge with others and putting his students before his own needs; sometimes sponsoring students in arts to further their studies in other parts of the world.
To date, Mr Iskandar has supported almost 50 students in their pursuits of higher education abroad.
Mr Iskandar continues to emphasise that creativity is paramount and his indomitable spirit says it all. He shared that his teaching philosophy reiterates this: Creativity is vital to help one find ways to address one’s Archilles’ heel and buy into what works for himself or herself. He added that in today’s fast- paced digital world, it is even more important that creativity should not be side-lined.
Nothing short of a luminary in Singapore Arts, the affable Mr Iskandar Jalil remains true to his teacher training roots as a warm mentor who is full of great insight for beginning teachers and inspiring words of wisdom on how to teach and impart. “Creativity is being yourself, being who you are”, he concluded. We thank this pioneer educator for his conviction which continually shines. Through so many of his memorable and beautiful artworks to the countless number of students he continues to inspire.
This article first appeared in NIE's quarterly publication NIE News in September 2015.