Mdm Lee Bee Choo (teacher of NHPS)
Changes through the years...
As Nan Hua celebrates a hundred years of rich history, it is apt that we take some time to revisit our vivid, shared experiences in the Singapore educational landscape.One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who have touched his life and made a difference. Teaching children is like cultivating plants. We see ourselves more like gardeners than teachers. The children are like the plants in our garden and when given the right conditions to thrive in, they grow well and develop a sense of responsibility for their actions. Water, sunlight and air, which are crucial for plant growth, are values which we inculcate in the children daily. It is important to build character in our children, so that when they step out into the society when they grow up, they are more confident to live life with a purpose and contribute to the community in their own ways (MOE, 2015).
Our education has shown a drastic change over the years…
The classroom has now become a place where students look forward to coming every day. It is a place where they can find love and care from their teachers and friends. It is also a place where they enjoy learning. The environment is non-threatening. With the advancement in technology, students do not just learn from the teachers. They learn from the internet, books, movies, and people inside as well as outside the school. Students learn by asking questions, wondering, exploring, experimenting and investigating new ideas. The modern facilities in our current schools are able to support the students’ learning to a great extent.
The teachers had rulers kept by their sides all the time. The students were caned for not doing well in their Spelling or for misbehaving in class. The notorious ones were even caned on the stage in front of the whole school. It was in fact quite common for teachers to execute physical punishment in those days. Most students did show respect to the teachers, probably due to fear. In the past, learning took place in the classroom only. We learned from the teachers and got all our facts from text books. When the teachers asked questions, we answered them. Information about faraway places was found in books. We did not have all the nice furniture which the students have nowadays. There were neither facilities like the computer laboratories nor science rooms where the latest equipment was installed for the students to use. It was basically just the chalks and the chalkboard.
Some of the things we had in the past...
To boost children’s nutritional intake, students were given packet milk to drink daily. At first, only selected children who were undernourished were given milk free of charge. Subsequently, any child could pay a small fee to receive the packet milk regularly. By that time, the milk scheme had become so popular that children were drinking as many as one million packets of milk each month.
As tooth decay was one of the most pressing medical issues in the earlier days when we were in school, dental hygiene was introduced. Every student was given a plastic tumbler and a toothbrush. After recess every day, the children had to fill up the tumbler with water, line up and squat along a drain to brush their teeth.
The educational landscape we see in the present day is moving towards developing children who grow up to be ‘good’ and ‘responsible’ citizens. Academic results is only one part of our children’s education, there are many important areas which we have to move towards…character development, sports and many more which play significant roles for the healthy growth of our children. Hence, we will work hand in hand with MOE to make the following shifts in learning:
• Beyond learning for grades, to learning for mastery.
• Beyond learning in school, to learning throughout life.
• Beyond learning for work, to learning for life.
Just as the local educational landscape has shifted drastically and all for the better, so has Nan Hua’s.
However, one thing is for sure ---- we will move forward with the very goals we began with ---- to make a difference to the life of every child who crosses our paths.
Mrs Kheng Mui Yee (teacher of NHPS)