Ex-teacher: MOE should do a better job in designing its curriculum
Posted by temasektimes on July 3, 2012
I am an ex-teacher, not a HOD or any other appointments, just a normal teacher. I agree with the earlier post “Ex-MOE teacher recalls ‘dehumanizing’ experiences of trainee teachers” to a certain extent. Not that it is a “dehumanizing” experience, but I would rather rephrase it to more appropriate terms – rigorous and hectic. If there is a scale out of 10 to measure the rigour and hectic of my NIE training, I will give a 10.
From the moment the term starts, assignments come in like waves of tsunami. Deadlines are aplenty and all of them are pretty close to each other – it is quite common to have several assignments due within the same week. Furthermore, there is the teaching assistantship and teaching practicum at the end of the curriculum year, where I had to observe numerous lessons, write reflections, plan lessons, prepare resources and teach. Sleep is definitely a luxury and given that I am a non-graduate, the remuneration is definitely not a motivating factor.
Even though I had come through from all that, I am certainly of the opinion that NIE can do a better job at designing its curriculum. No doubt the rigour and hectic prepared me well for the same kind of working condition and pace in school, I question a lot of times on the quality of our teacher training and education. What is the point of rushing for deadlines when we should really be acquiring in depth knowledge of the subject we are going to teach?
That being said, I am also not suggesting that trainee teachers to be given luxurious amount of time to complete each assignment, at least it shouldn’t be 2 to 3 deadlines within the same week coupled with tests and presentations. If teachers are trained in such pressure-cooker style, instead of being taught to appreciate the subject and cultivate the love of learning it, it is of little surprise that they will in turn use the same method on the students. It creates a vicious cycle as these teachers move up the ladder, and there will always be a huge barrier for education to evolve to keep up with times.
As a non-graduate teacher, I will disagree with my 2 hands up if anyone were to tell me that teaching is a well-paying job. Maybe for the graduate teachers, but definitely not for me. I even had to take up tuition classes at self-help groups in order to have a little bit of luxury. Nevertheless, that didn’t hamper me to join teaching. I joined teaching in the first place as I wanted to change and make a difference in my subject – Physical Education. I even told my interviewers that if I am not given the subject, I would not sign the letter to enter NIE after my contract teaching stint.
True enough, I was given the subject and went to NIE. Ironically, at the end of the day, it wasn’t the stress nor the workload and definitely not the remuneration that made me leave teaching. It was the negativity, lack of support from school leaders, the reluctance to open up to new ideas, the stick-in-the-mud mentality, favouritism from school leaders and many more obstacles that doused the passion. As I witness more of my NIE cohort-mates leaving the service, I began to wonder how a group of young men and women who were once so passionate about teaching gradually lose that fire in them. Salary is definitely not the issue, as some of them were emplaced into the graduate scheme after obtaining a degree from part-time studies.
I had the experience of looking for a job after I left teaching and I can attest to how difficult it was. Barring education qualifications, very few employers see the relevance of the skills teachers possess. To many of them, all that teachers know are to teach and this is such a specialised skill that many employers don’t see the transferability and relevance of the other skills that teachers have. Most of them do not know teachers spent most of their time doing non-teaching tasks. And in these non-teaching tasks, other skills like events planning and co-ordination, project management, adult training, handling “customers”, relationship building, administration and many more are required.
There are valid points in the author’s post and in all of the comments, and I will just want to end by saying there are people who joined teaching for the wrong reasons, I have witnessed them before, and strangely these are not the ones who leave after their bond ends. However, there are also those who joined because they truly want to make a difference, and more often that not, these are the ones who can’t sustain. It is probable that, in my opinion, the more you want to make a difference, the more dejected you will feel because the system just doesn’t allow that. MOE’s vision is to “mould the future of our nation”. And a truly passionate teacher will never do that, because they believe that children should be nurtured to his/her fullest potential. Moulding will only shape a person to what he/she is not. Perhaps it is the passion-turned-dejection part that doused the fire in most teachers. To avoid losing more good teachers, I believe radical changes to the current system should be made.
*The above was first posted as a comment on The Temasek Times.