Callers debate role of teachers, exam system

Callers debate role of teachers, exam system

Friday, 15 March 2013

Media Type
TODAY, VoicesTODAY (Page 36)

The role of teachers in how students learn drew lively views from callers in the latest episode of VoicesTODAY talk show last night.

While the topic was “Should students take their frst major exam only at 18?”, callers drew attention to teachers, with Ms Junie Loh pointing out that some teachers make students “overly focused” on examinations, lowering their interest in learning in the process.

A 51-year-old father, who gave his name as Richard, said teachers should focus on providing the best education to students, instead of aiming to churn out top students from their classes.

Another caller, Ms Yvonne Wong, said teachers should “draw out” curiosity in the child, while Mr Daniel Yap noted that teachers today also have to juggle other responsibilities, like administration work and dealing with demanding parents.

Also energetically debated last night was the issue of streaming and high-stakes exams. Dr Manu Kapur, Head of Learning Sciences Lab at the National Institute of Education, said that from a “research perspective”, whether to have a high-stakes exam would depend on what society determines is a mature age.

Ms Loh said she supported the present system of exams as they help students identify what they are good at and what they need to improve on. She added that a student would go through about three major exams, and if he failed the first one, he had two more to prove himself.

However, Ms Wong felt that instead of assessing children based on grades in one exam at Primary 6, focus should be on evaluating a child’s attitude and aptitude — which should be tracked during the six years of primary school.

Meanwhile, Mr Winston Chin said that he is not a “big fan of streaming”, as he felt that when students of the same ability are grouped together, they tend to “help themselves to succeed”.Referring to Finland’s education system — which TODAY featured last week — Mr Chin said Finnish students with higher ability would help “weaker” ones.

Agreeing, Mr Yap said the Finnish education system is designed such that students will have the same teacher in the frst three to six years, which allows teachers to know students well and help them cater to students with higher and lower learning ability accordingly.


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Source: TODAY, VoicesTODAY (Page 36), mediacorp