Tag Archives: Singapore

Learning from Singapore: Pak Tee Ng and the Focus on “Teach Less, Learn More”

#uLead15 was an opportunity for educators to hear from some of the leaders in education where PISA scores are consistently the highest.

It was obvious that the leading PISA countries do not use strategies like practicing test writing, teaching to the test, focusing on “moving the high level two students to level three”, data walls, SMART goals, common core standards or tying teacher pay to student “achievement”. In fact, the words “student achievement” are rarely used in relation to test performance.

Overall, there is an agreement that valuing education as a society, having very high-performing and highly-respected teachers who learn to teach in a highly selective, focused program of education, and viewing education as an investment rather than an expenditure, are critical characteristics of the people living in the countries where PISA results are consistently excellent.

Personally, it was my first opportunity to learn about education in Singapore.  Here is what I learned from the fascinating, highly entertaining and widely respected Dr. Pak Tee Ng.

(I have included a number of Tweets from his presentations.  Click on the tweets to follow the conversation on Twitter.)

What are the characteristics of education in “high-performing” Singapore?

1. Manageable size – Adaption/adoption and spread are facilitated by the small size of the country.

2. Stable education funding – Education is an investment and funding is never cut.

3. Highly skilled and educated teachers who are well-respected in the nation.

4. Education is valued by all as the way to a better future.

5. Equity is at the centre of the education system. Everyone has access to the same public education system.

6. Teaching is seen as complex, and inquiry, including adapting methods from other contexts, is ongoing, always.  Change from a position of strength is preferable to, and more mindful than, change made out of desperation.

7. Courage and tenacity to stand up for what is best for children is valued and encouraged.

8. “Teach less, learn more” is a central concept.

9. Creativity is in children already. Schools should strive to leave it there!

10. Children are individuals.  They were not meant to sit in desks all day.  Play,  joy and love of learning are essential to their well-being.

 

Singapore itself is a very tiny country.  There are only 400 schools and one university for teacher education.  This reminds me of the work by Ken Leithwood on the characteristics of strong districts, and the learning from Andy Hargreaves on the importance of the size of the political unit when considering the impact on student learning.

 

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Pak Tee Ng is a master at the use of metaphors.

He asked us to consider the loving mother, cooking food for her child, slaving over the stove and selecting the items she knows are best for her child.  When she tries to feed the child, he says no, I am not eating any more.  Then what?  She tries to stuff the child.  She makes more food.  The child wants no more.

This, Pak Tee says, is the ‘teach more learn less’ model, where conscientious and well meaning teachers work hard, trying to organize information for students, then they try to stuff it into their heads.  The students hate it and want no more.

Instead, what if the mother cooked a few wonderfully interesting food items.  Students tried them and wanted more?

This is like the ‘teach less learn more’ model, where the teacher is the master chef, creating interest, and leaving the learners wanting to learn more, and to learn how to feed themselves to get more.

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It’s precise teaching – inquiry into what works – that is important.

When you go to the doctor, does he say “take two aspirins and call me in the morning” no matter what your symptoms are?

Similarly, why would we ever prescribe exactly the same learning for every child?

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Continuing to do the same thing that we know doesn’t work, makes no sense.

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We work very hard to educate our teachers and education leaders to be the best they can be for every child.

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It is NOT about test scores.  It is about children, and our future.

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Why do we think we need 21C Skills?

What has changed?  Isn’t it still about the best learning for children?

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We don’t need to teach creativity.

We say we want our children to graduate from school as creative and innovative individuals.

Our children enter school this way.  We just need a school system that doesn’t take this out of them!

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We need to recognize that both form and substance are important.

Practice is important, but it is no good to only practice.

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There must be joy in learning.

We have to remember that we are teaching children.  It is against the nature of childhood to sit still and quiet.

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Do we really want to create a student body that is just becoming more tolerant of boredom?

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Every single child must be educated to the best of their ability.  We don’t need a slogan like “No Child Left Behind” because it would never be any other way.

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There is no magic bullet – education is complex!

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Teachers are the most important people in society.

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Educators need courage and tenacity to stand up for what is best for our kids.

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Courage to make the right decisions must be balanced with wisdom so that we are always doing the best for our future through our children.

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Education is an investment, not an expenditure.  We have long term stability in education funding so we can plan and continue to make our education system excellent.

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We must get Pak Tee Ng on Twitter!  There is so much to learn from him!

Here we are trying to convince this man, trending 2nd in Canada on Twitter, that he needs to be there!

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Learning from #uLead15: Pak Tee Ng

After attending a learning opportunity like #uLead15, there is an imperative to share the learning fully and quickly.  I am still travelling – not quite home from the event yet – so my first share is a Storify of the twitterfeed during Pak Tee Ng’s presentations.  I know you will be fascinated by his thinking, and I will expand on the learning once I arrive at home!

Thanks to Dr. Pak Tee Ng for being such an excellent educator in sharing his thinking with us over the past few days.  He was trending #2 in Canada at one point, which tells you just how popular his message was!

[View the story “International Leadership Learning at #uLead15: Pak Tee Ng” on Storify]

International Leadership Learning at #uLead15: Pak Tee Ng//

International Leadership Learning at #uLead15: Pak Tee Ng

Some of the key learning from #uLead15 with Pak Tee Ng from Singapore

  1. Concern for our next generation should drive us, not international results like PISA -Pak Tee Ng #ulead15
  2. #uLead15 Perspectives on Leadership-Pasi Sahlberg,Pak Tee Ng,HonGordonDirks,Illugi Gunnarson and Simon Breakspear.
  3. I added a video to a @YouTube playlist  http://ln.is/www.youtube.com/aoslU  Pak Tee Ng – Singapore: Teach Less, Learn More
  4. Pak Tee Ng – “PISA is important? Yes and no. Our children is what is most important.” #ulead15 #thereasonweteach
  5. We should be driven by our concern for the next generation not by #pisa results. Pak Tee Ng #ulead15
  6. From Pak Tee Ng – It is the future of our children that drives our inquiry. Just because PISA is good we should not stop improving #ulead15
  7. From Pak Tee Ng: PISA is just a measure. That is all that it is. #uLead15
  8. Pak Tee Ng “much more concerned about the education of our children… it is not about ranking, it is about education” #PISA #uLead15 #abed
  9. From Pak Tee Ng -> Back in the last century did someone say “20C skills” then we developed people accordingly? #uLead15 Why 21C skill?
  10. We didn’t focus on 20th century skills to get successfully to the 21st century – Pak Tee Ng of Singapore. #ulead15
  11. Can someone please get Pak Tee Ng a Twitter account. His message needs to be heard by all! @SimonBreakspear #ulead15
  12. Pak Tee Ng:The real question isn’t “How do we teach creativity?” Kids have creativity. It’s “How do we not kill it?” #ulead15
  13. Students have creativity! Our job is to tap into that, provide opportunity and not kill it! Pak Tee Ng #ulead15 http://t.co/7yMNM8U4Vk

    Students have creativity! Our job is to tap into that, provide opportunity and not kill it! Pak Tee Ng #ulead15 pic.twitter.com/7yMNM8U4Vk
  14. From Pak Tee Ng – #ulead Teachers are irreplaceable. Teaching is about impacting lives. Teaching is about modelling.
  15. Pak Tee Ng: From quotable quotes to tweetable tweets: How quickly our world is changing #ulead15 @albertateachers @HargreavesBC @philmcrae
  16. A tweetable tweet is modern quotable quote! Pak Tee Ng #ulead15
  17. It takes an expert teacher to know what is important and not important -Pak Tee Ng. #ulead2015
  18. Teaching is about impacting lives- lives impacting lives- relationships and love #ulead15 @SimonBreakspear Pak Tee Ng
  19. From Pak Tee Ng #ulead15 Is learning a task or a joy?When it is a joy, we do better. @shareski
  20. Pak Tee Ng: (from Confucius) Is it not a JOY to learn? In some of today’s rooms, Is it not a task? #ulead15
  21. Pak Tee Ng says learning should be joyful instead of being a chore or task. #uLead15
  22. From Pak Tee Ng #ulead15 We are making kids who are becoming more tolerant of boredom!!
  23. There is great joy in learning! If we could make this our culture we would be successful educators and leaders. Pak Tee Ng #ulead15
  24. From Pak Tee Ng #ulead15 Kids are like a homing device for interesting things. What if there is nothing out there? Let’s all teach better
  25. Pak Tee Ng We turn on our radar to look for something interesting – then they are engaged. Son’t let students find nothing. #ulead15
  26. #ulead15 Kick boredom out of your classroom…be an interesting T. Change things up, teach w/ passion. Pak Tee Ng thx 4 modelling this!
  27. Packed room for Pak Tee Ng in concurrent session. He could sell out the main hall after his panel talk. @SimonBreakspear #ulead15
  28. The room is full. Time to get Pak Tee Ng a twitter account! #uLead http://t.co/EDxmOuyxlB

    The room is full. Time to get Pak Tee Ng a twitter account! #uLead pic.twitter.com/EDxmOuyxlB
  29. From Pak Tee Ng #uLead15: Why what and how of teaching – at the teacher level. At the student level we want students who love learning.
  30. From Pak Tee Ng #uLead15 – Move students from an ability to do exam questions to understanding, application and appreciation.
  31. Pak Tee NG quality is teaching for understanding and appreciation #ulead15
  32. From Pak Tee Ng #uLead15 Instead of just being able to do stuff, we need to understand stuff.
  33. Let's not focus on debt- focus on quality - higher levels of on task learning Pak Tee Ng #Ulead15 http://t.co/2sYI0Wfxpc

    Let’s not focus on debt- focus on quality – higher levels of on task learning Pak Tee Ng #Ulead15 pic.twitter.com/2sYI0Wfxpc
  34. Essence of teach less learn more in Singapore...shifting from quantity to quality. Pak Tee Ng #ulead15 http://t.co/OVBbg6Hk5n

    Essence of teach less learn more in Singapore…shifting from quantity to quality. Pak Tee Ng #ulead15 pic.twitter.com/OVBbg6Hk5n
  35. From Pak Tee Ng #uLead15 As a country, getting the answer is NOT good enough. The thinking, understanding and appreciation is important.
  36. From Pak Tee Ng #uLead15 Being really good at not knowing what you are doing is very dangerous.
  37. Pak Tee Ng: very dangerous to be real good doing something you dont understand 🙂 #uLead15
  38. If we focus on understanding how students learn, then students will learn more and better. Pak Tee Ng #ulead15
  39. Pak Tee Ng: we should challange our own mindset about how to teach. Do not kill childrens creativity #uLead15
  40. From Pak Tee Ng #uLead15 We don’t need a drama club! We naturally dramatize things. Just don’t kill this!
  41. Pak Tee Ng speaking reminds me of Reggio Emilio approach- children have 100 language, we take 99 away from them #uLead15
  42. Try not to kill student creativity thru schooling- Pak Tee Ng #Ulead15 When students are young they ask Qs Play is an act of creativity-
  43. From Pak Tee Ng #uLead15 PLAY! (we call it collaborative learning, cooperative learning, values education, drama class, storytelling)
  44. Must “Challenge our thinking regarding what effective teaching methods are”-Pak Tee Ng Sounds like a job for #instructionalcoaching #ulead15
  45. Pak Tee Ng The ability to get the right answer – but not know why – is not good enough. Changing pedagogy in Singapore #ulead15
  46. Pak Tee Ng: Its not just “play”… It’s living a created narrative, problem solving, collaboration, ethics education, and more! #ulead15
  47. Implicit in all children is cooperation, collaboration, imagination, curiosity, creativity, ethics. Pak Tee Ng #ulead
  48. From Pak Tee Ng #uLead15 Kids are all the things we say they should be when they arrive, then they do school & they lose it all. Why?
  49. As adults we get so schooled in adulthood that we forget childhood. Play is important! -Pak Tee Ng #ulead15 #hs4
  50. Pak Tee Ng Singapore challenge — Don’t kill creativity through schooling. #ulead15 #psd70 #muirlake
  51. "We have gotten so schooled into adulthood we have forgotten childhood. Learn from children" #ulead15 Pak Tee Ng http://t.co/tGfBaJvLaK

    “We have gotten so schooled into adulthood we have forgotten childhood. Learn from children” #ulead15 Pak Tee Ng pic.twitter.com/tGfBaJvLaK
  52. Teach less doesn’t say teach nothing. Concentrate on what’s important. Facilitate when appropriate. – Pak Tee Ng. #ulead15
  53. "Teachers need to be good teachers first and then they can be better facilitators" Pak Tee Ng #ulead15 http://t.co/bV4ouqeqiY

    “Teachers need to be good teachers first and then they can be better facilitators” Pak Tee Ng #ulead15 pic.twitter.com/bV4ouqeqiY
  54. From Pak Tee Ng #uLead15 Teach less learn more is not teach nothing! Concentrate on important. You can’t facilitate everything!
  55. #ulead15 Pak Tee Ng. Our teaching is sometimes is delivered regardless of our students. Like a dr prescribing 2 aspirin for all ailments
  56. Pedagogy is an integrated concept that makes it important to tailor learning to students. – Pak Tee Ng #ulead15
  57. More teaching and more of the same teaching is not the solution to a learning problem. – Pak Tee Ng #ulead15
  58. From Pak Tee Ng #uLead15 Conscientious teachers wear themselves out in the teach more learn less model.
  59. #ulead15 The same methodology for all disregards the learner – like a physician prescribing the same cure for every patient. Pak Tee Ng
  60. Pak Tee Ng – The professionalism of teaching is “that we know how people learn”. #ulead15
  61. Pak Tee Ng – methodology must not be regardless of children. No two aspirin three times a day approach for every child! #ulead15
  62. Traditional model. Prepare food and feed. Prepare info (units, lessons) feed child Pak Tee Ng #uLead15 http://t.co/f1Mqv0eQHF

    Traditional model. Prepare food and feed. Prepare info (units, lessons) feed child Pak Tee Ng #uLead15 pic.twitter.com/f1Mqv0eQHF
  63. From Pak Tee Ng #uLead15 The people with extensive formal education are not always the most creative teachers.
  64. #ulead15 Twitter name for Pak Tee Ng? How about @Mr.PakTee ...PITY THE FOOL who teaches more! http://t.co/o75At8ErtV

    #ulead15 Twitter name for Pak Tee Ng? How about @mr.PakTee …PITY THE FOOL who teaches more! pic.twitter.com/o75At8ErtV
  65. This guy is the star of #ulead15 and I totally interrupted him in the lobby to get a selfie with him. (Pak Tee Ng) http://t.co/Tr70IJGiqd

    This guy is the star of #ulead15 and I totally interrupted him in the lobby to get a selfie with him. (Pak Tee Ng) pic.twitter.com/Tr70IJGiqd
  66. Mr Pak Tee Ng: Closing Keynote The Paradoxical Policy of "Teach Less Learn More" in Singapore #uLead15 #vsblearns http://t.co/GJR5AMLYfp

    Mr Pak Tee Ng: Closing Keynote The Paradoxical Policy of “Teach Less Learn More” in Singapore #uLead15 #vsblearns pic.twitter.com/GJR5AMLYfp
  67. Practice is not wrong. By itself, it is insufficient. – Pak Tee Ng #ulead15
  68. From Pak Tee Ng #ulead15 We can and should learn from others, but we should be mindful of contextual differences.
  69. From Pak Tee Ng #ulead15 The ticket to success now will not be the ticket to success in the future.
  70. Change from a position of strength rather than a position of desperation. – Pak Tee Ng #ulead #ecsrd
  71. Lessons from Singapore and Pak Tee Ng: Education is an investment, NOT an expenditure.
  72. #ulead15  @gordondirks Pak Tee Ng has a good point.  In times of econ downturn, it is prudent to invest in education. http://t.co/6562SHQfex

    #ulead15 @gordondirks Pak Tee Ng has a good point. In times of econ downturn, it is prudent to invest in education. pic.twitter.com/6562SHQfex
  73. Mr Pak Tee Ng Teach Less, but Teach WELL...LEARN MORE Move from Quantity to Quality #uLead15 #vsblearns http://t.co/6FLQ0xq5TN

    Mr Pak Tee Ng Teach Less, but Teach WELL…LEARN MORE Move from Quantity to Quality #uLead15 #vsblearns pic.twitter.com/6FLQ0xq5TN
  74. More of the same teaching that didn’t work the first time is not exactly the way to inspire learning. – Pak Tee Ng #ulead15
  75. Dr. Pak Tee Ng: Teaching is the ultimate form of ‘Pay it Forward’.
    #ulead15 #regteach
  76. More of the same teaching is not the way to inspire learning – wise words from Pak Tee Ng #ulead15 #TeachLessLearnMore
  77. From Pak Tee Ng #ulead15 “One day, my hope is that you will do this better than I.” This is a teacher.
  78. Dive, dive, dive. RT @amdesb: Pak Tee Ng – Teach less, Learn more – move from quantity to quality.
    #ulead15 #gppsd
  79. Everybody deserves a good future! One failing school is one school too many. Pak Tee Ng#ulead15
  80. Pak Tee Ng: In Singapore, we don’t have a policy called ‘No Child Left Behind’, we just practice it, that’s all. #ulead15
  81. From Pak Tee Ng #ulead15 It is about having courage to change. We need the courage to put away the ladder while we are on it. @RonCanuel 🙂
  82. Dr. Pak Tee Ng : “take responsible calculated risks, be careful… our children are real people.” #ulead15
  83. From Pak Tee Ng #ulead15 Educational change is about people thinking carefully and then having the courage to make decisions to move forward
  84. Loud and clear theme between @dennisshirley @pasi_sahlberg and Pak Tee Ng of the importance of being human, love, and tenacity #ulead15
  85. MT @KenSampson1: Tenacity – think long term, think deeply, then bight the bullet. Pak Tee Ng. #ulead15 #abed
  86. Pak Tee Ng: “Despite it all, shall we go on?” Courage and tenacity from teachers to continue on despite being out of comfort zones.
    #ulead15
  87. "Education is the human enterprise of paying it forward" Pak Tee Ng #ulead15 BEAUTIFUL #abed #epsb @SimonBreakspear http://t.co/h5IVDUKDbh

    “Education is the human enterprise of paying it forward” Pak Tee Ng #ulead15 BEAUTIFUL #abed #epsb @SimonBreakspear pic.twitter.com/h5IVDUKDbh
  88. Finally!!! Thank you Pak Tee Ng! Word Courage was openly stated. Folks the blunt truth is that No Courage means No Change #ulead15 #edchat
  89. @JRStrum: And with a Teacher’s heart beat there shall be hope for all children #ulead15 Pak Tee Ng’s closing thoughts.” Love this!
  90. #KCA #VoteJKT48ID thescamdog: In Singapore, education is an investment, not an expenditure. Invest more when times are tough. – Pak Tee Ng …
  91. RT: “@philmcrae: "Education is the human enterprise of paying it forward" Pak Tee Ng #ulead15 BEAUTIFUL #abed #hs4  http://t.co/AZe3olcxEX”

    RT: “@philmcrae: “Education is the human enterprise of paying it forward” Pak Tee Ng #ulead15 BEAUTIFUL #abed #hs4 pic.twitter.com/AZe3olcxEX
  92. #KCA #VoteJKT48ID MarkATAPres: We must spend prudently. In good times or bad investment in education must remain stable. Pak Tee Ng #ulead15