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14 September 2011

MGSKL Educational Trip to Singapore 2011

MGSKL Educational Trip to Singapore 
Reflections
by Ms Satkunamary G. (Teacher)

 

Visiting a neighbouring country on a school trip is a rare opportunity. Themed "Learning Beyond Borders" the Singapore trip was an enriching time of learning from the two schools we visited. Going to places around the island, enjoying the Night Safari and participating in various activities at the Universal Studios unleashed fresh energy in many of us, teachers. Standing at the foot of the roller coaster and hearing the screams of excitement as well as 'terror', I wished I was ten years younger to enjoy such exhilarating rides. I enjoyed the fun, laughter and camaraderie amongst all of us on the trip. The 12 students with boundless energy and a 'must-try-all' spirit added much vigour to the tour.

    When we arrived at MGS in Blackmore Drive, the structure and design of the school with its Gallery was something to behold. The history of the school was very carefully and clearly carved out in the form of short write-ups and pictures. Reading the history of the school and the efforts of a simple yet strong lady, Sophia Blackmore, the founder, I marvelled at how a decision of a humble lady to leave the shores of homeland and the comfort of family and kin to come away as a missionary to an unknown part of the world at her time has touched lives through the century. She began with a few girls, teaching them in a house and like the ripple effect, the circle got bigger until a school was formed. One child at a tiem; meeting a need as the need arises; do I put this into my practice as a classroom teacher? These lives that pass through my hands year after year, the Form Fives, have I been able to give them more than the grammar and usage of English? I compared Sophia Blackmore to our own Mabel Marsh. We must make our students be aware of, know and appreciate the efforts and work of the early missionaries who set up MGSKL for the education of women in this country.

    

The teachers I met at MGS said they were happy to teach there. The discussion with the Head of Department for English was very useful. She explained some of the strategies they use to engage students in reading literature texts as they too face the challenge of electronic gadgets and games overpowering students' taste for reading. In that school, English is the first language for most of the students. Thus, their proficiency level is high. Nevertheless, lots of grammar and vocabulary building exercises are carried out.

    The school's vision is to create Godly Women of Excellence with a Heart of Love. The mission : To educate every girl in a Christian environment in order that she may Master, Grow and Serve in every phase of her life. Aptly, the school motto is To Master, Grow and Serve. What impressed me further was how MGS aims to achieve its vision and mission, that is through the 3R Experience and the C3 staff. The 3 R experience - Developing the MGS girls through a Rigorous, Responsive and Relevant education, The C3 staff - developing a Competent, Committed and Caring Staff. The C3 staff steers the students towards the 3R experience. One can say that MGS is so successful because they have the necessary 'ingredients' namely good facilities, good students, smart teachers and a long history of excellence. I would say that passion to teach and a passion to learn is the gel that holds all these components together and springs them on to success.

    
Kuo Chuan Presbyterian School was quite different from MGS. This co-ed school has students of mixed abilities. What impressed me there was the way students were engaged in various forms of learning after school hours. Walking down the corridors, we say some students playing the Chinese harps, a group of boys were industriously working on their robotics, a lone student was putting her finishing touches to her large painting, a practice session for basketball was in progress and the list goes on. Nowhere in the school was any one idle or looking lost. The atmosphere around the school was very vibrant. The garden on the roof-top is an amazing creation of the teachers and students. I simply could not comprehend how this garden would have been set up.

    The head of the English Department shared with us some of their teaching strategies and how they use a Whole School Approach (WSA) to raise the level of English Proficiency. The whole school works together towards providing a better language environment. In addressing the need to make reading more popular, the school promotes multi-modal literacies, the integration of text, visual and sound which caters to the needs of present day teenagers. We were also briefed on the school's new subject, Media Studies which is being offered at O-Levels.

    
Much more can be said about what I saw, learnt and experienced during the Singapore trip. The exposure to the two schools has energised me and injected fresh ideas for my classroom practice. At the same time it was a good weekend with friends. I am glad I went on this trip.






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