Ruth Wong Memorial Lecture 2008

Ruth Wong Memorial Lecture 2008

Thursday, 27 November 2008


The National Institute of Education (NIE), Singapore, National University of Singapore and Asia-Pacific Educational Research Association will jointly organise the Ruth Wong Memorial Lecture on 27 November 2008.

The Ruth Wong Memorial Lecture is held in memory of Dr Ruth Wong Hie King, first Director of the former Institute of Education. An account of her life and legacy is available in Annexe A.

This year's lecture, entitled Mediated Learning Experience (MLE) Strategies and Children's Cognitive Plasticity, will be delivered by Prof David Tzuriel. The speaker's bio-data is enclosed in Annexe B and below is the lecture abstract: Synopsis of Mediated Learning Experience (MLE) Strategies and Children's Cognitive Plasticity.

Lecture Abstract

Mediated Learning Experience (MLE) processes refer to interactions in which parents, teachers, and peers interpose themselves between a set of stimuli and the developing child (learner) and modify them to enhance learning and cognitive plasticity. The MLE processes are gradually internalised by the learner and become an integrated mechanism of change within the child. The more MLE the child receives, the more he/she is able to learn from direct exposure to formal and informal learning situations. The quality of mediation may indicate future changes in the child's cognitive structures, deficient cognitive functions, and the ability to benefit from mediation in other contexts. Recent research has shown the efficacy of MLE processes in facilitating children's cognitive plasticity in family and school settings. MLE interactions, especially mediation for expanding (transcendence), predicted children's cognitive plasticity and of school achievements more than conventional IQ scores. 
Children participating in cognitive education programs guided by MLE principles (eg. Bright Start, Peer Mediation with Young Children) showed higher levels of cognitive flexibility and metacognitive skills than control children. They could learn the principles of mediation, apply them with their peers, and become better learners on both thinking skills and academic areas. Mediated learning processes were found to be effective in revealing potential for giftedness, decreasing gender differences in spatial abilities, predicting emergent literacy, and ego identity.

Annexe A

In Memory of Dr Ruth H K Wong
1918 - 1982

Dr Ruth Wong Hie King was the founding Director of the then Institute of Education (IE) in Singapore. She taught briefly at the Singapore Anglo-Chinese School and attended Queen's University in Belfast, Ireland and Harvard University in USA under various scholarships. Upon her return from Harvard, she taught at the then University of Malaya in Singapore and started the Faculty of Education at the newly established University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur.

As Director of Research at the Ministry of Education in Singapore and concurrently as Principal of the Teachers' Training College (TTC) along Paterson Road, Ruth Wong became the most well known and respected educationist in the history of education and teacher education in Singapore. Single handedly, she upgraded the TTC to IE in 1973 which streamlined and improved teacher education considerably. The mid 1960s to the late 1970s were years of very rapid change in Singapore. Ruth's ideas have been influential and enduring and her achievements, considerable. Many were impressed by the strength of her character, modesty, compassion and equanimity. She retired from IE in 1976 but succumbed to her illness six years later at the age of 64.

These memorial lectures seek to bring to the consciousness of a younger generation of teachers, teacher educators and administrators, Ruth Wong's seminal ideas, her reminder and challenge to examine and re-examine the ends and means of education. She was a role model for the teaching profession and her quest for excellence in education continues today in many of those who knew her.