Professional Sharing / Symposium

EZ COE T&L Symposium 2019

The East Zone Centre of Excellence for Teaching & Learning (EZ COE T&L) Symposium 2019 was organised by the EZ COE T&L, and hosted by Dunman High School, on 19 July 2019. The theme of ‘Teaching Beyond Academics, Learning for the Future’ attracted a strong turnout of about 600 educators from 83 schools, the various branches of MOE HQ, the Academy of Singapore Teachers (AST) and the National Institute of Education (NIE).

In her opening remarks, Zonal Director (Schools), East, Mrs. Wendy Lim noted the anxiety that “teaching beyond the academics” and preparing for the future could bring, and offered perspectives on how we could build on our past and present strengths in the education system so that we could move forward and take advantage of future opportunities with confidence and hope as a fraternity of educators and learners.

The first keynote speaker, Dr. Elvin Lim, Professor of Political Science, Dean of Core Curriculum, and Director of Wee Kim Wee Centre at the Singapore Management University (SMU) echoed Mrs. Lim’s take on the anxiety that the future may evoke. He suggested that this anxiety may be resolved if we embrace the unknown rather than to resist it or “future proof” against it. In this regard, he presented mental frames which educators could adopt to embrace the unknown, such as responding to “answers” with “Is that so?” and constantly taking the view of casting away pre-conceived notions and starting from a clean slate. He posited that doing so would help free us from binary situations where we have to choose between competitiveness and stress, for instance.

The second keynote speaker, Dr. Liu Woon Chia, Associate Professor of the Psychological Studies Academic Group, NIE, built on this perspective by sharing how NIE has embarked on new initiatives in the Post-Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) programme and undergraduate programmes in order to broaden the perspectives of new teachers, including getting trainee teachers to attach themselves to companies so that they could better guide students on the demands of the workplace, and making it possible for them to go for exchange programmes in universities outside the English Language zone.

During the In-Conversation segment, moderated by Ms. Irene Tan, Principal Master Teacher, the audience was curious to learn more about the things educators could do to move toward a new paradigm in the future without losing the strengths and lessons learnt from the past. References were made to Dr. Lim’s analogies of the “clean knife” and “clean mirror” which represented taking a fresh look at our current practices, and the notion of learning from failure. Both speakers shared observations drawn from their vast experience as educators and involvement as designers of curriculums and programmes for their institutions.

Armed with these new insights and perspectives drawn from examining the key ideas in the Symposium theme, the participants took away much food for thought and a trailing realization that perhaps the best way to “future proof” teaching is to help students learn to appreciate working with the uncertainty that the future will bring.

Click to view the Opening Remarks by Mrs Wendy Lim, Zonal Director Schools (East) and the presentation slides “Preparing Teachers for the Changing Future” by Dr Liu Woon Chia and “Embracing Ambiguity, Embracing the Future” by Dr Elvin Lim.

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