EZ COE T&L Symposium 2017
The EZ COE T&L Symposium 2017 was successfully organised by Dunman High School, the East Zone Centre of Excellence for Teaching and Learning (EZ COE T&L), on 28 July 2017.
This year’s theme was ‘Teaching for the Joy of learning – Principles, Pedagogy and Assessment’, and there was a very strong response to this event with over 600 educators from 83 schools as well as officers from the various branches of MOE HQ, the Academy of Singapore Teachers and NIE attending this symposium.
This year’s Guest-of-Honour was Deputy Director-General of Education (Schools) and Director of Schools, Ms Liew Wei Li. In her opening remarks, Ms Liew shared that our task now was to help students experience the joy of learning. She recounted our journey from the 2005 when we as a system, embraced ‘Teach Less Learn More’ to better engage our learners in a “flow” that would have been the start of the Joy of Learning. She added that we have moved from the PETALS framework to our very own Singapore Teacher Practice, which she hoped teachers would internalize and do it well so that together with our belief system, we can bring about more a more purposeful Joy of Learning for our students.
The first of two keynote speakers this Symposium was Professor Dr A. Lin Goodwin, who is the Vice Dean and Professor of Education at the Teachers College in Colombia University. She shared her thoughts on “The Joy of Learning”, covering several concepts of what she believed to be Joyful Learning starting with the importance of “Flow”, “Interaction” and “Relevance”.
Professor Goodwin next expounded on various basic principles of cognition and learning before revealing her views on some basic practices which lead to joyful learning that included calls to build in release valves and embrace tinkering to allow children to just play and express themselves. Finally, she ended her speech by reminding the audience that we should be sending messages to our students that teaching is a Moral, Intellectual, Human and Thinking activity – and that our students are always in the process of becoming with infinite capability, standing on the brink of greatness”.
The second keynote speaker was Associate Professor Dr Kelvin Tan, Head of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning in NIE, NTU. In his speech, Professor Tan examined the question of whether achievement and assessment helps or hinders joy from learning. Through exploring what exactly joy is, and through suggesting that student achievement be measured more in terms of the level of completion of an endeavour rather than the heights of one’s achievements, Professor Tan argued that assessment can help engender joy in learning if it is used to represent a sense of achievement rather than merely to discriminate, deter and punish. He ended his speech by inviting the audience to consider that perhaps, “Great joy comes from addressing our greatest challenges”.
The In-Conversation segment moderated by Dr Poon Chew Leng, Divisional Director of Research and Management Information, MOE, provided the opportunity for the participants to more deeply engage the speakers on the subject of the Joy of Learning in assessment.
The participants benefited from both the responses and insights gleaned from both the keynote speakers as well as response from Ms Liew that added to the generative and engaging conversation. A lot of the dialogue centered on how assessment could be tailored to inform learning, as well as to meet the different abilities and readiness of students, and in so doing, bring about the joy that comes from achieving recognition of his or her learning accomplishments.