Musings of an Ex-Vice-Principal: Learning About Learning

I had a whale of a time discussing Comprehension and Composition strategies with our valued clients, as well as visitors, at my last Parents’ Workshop. No gimmicks, no grandiose claims: just a talk to share my insights on the English syllabus. It’s our way of sharing knowledge with parents and creating a 360° learning experience.

The room was completely filled with our own parents, as well as guests who just wanted to know more about the syllabus. We chatted about the different question types in Comprehension and literary techniques for Composition writing, giving our clients and guests an overview of the two capstone components in the English curriculum.

As expected, there were plenty of questions. Many of the ones I heard reflected the anxieties and concerns of all parents:

“What is wrong with this Comprehension answer? Isn’t it logical? Why isn’t it considered an inference?” (Answer: There are specific frameworks to answer various question types, even inferential questions.)

“My daughter memorised all these phrases from this Compo book I bought the other day. Why didn’t she do well for this composition she wrote?” (Answer: Writing well in Composition involves a triangulation of content, skills and application. Memorising phrases is ineffective and misunderstands what is being tested.)

“How can I get my son to enjoy writing?” (Answer: It depends. No easy answers here.)

As the Director of Curriculum & Teaching at Academia, I face a lot of questions from parents – especially those who know that I also used to be an ex-Vice-Principal and English HOD. It’s completely understandable that parents these days are very heavily involved and invested in their child’s education: after all, we live in a world where the competition for highly skilled jobs is intensifying – and where technology is going to replace jobs that do not require analysis or creativity. While nobody has a crystal ball for the future, I strongly believe that the best strategy is for your child to simply be smart. But how can we work together to achieve your aims for your child?

In a nutshell, the old strategies of yesteryear are not viable paths to success. For instance, I strongly believe that composition is not about simply memorising stock phrases from low-quality disposable composition books – it’s about content and thinking. (Even reading isn’t as straightforward as it seems – you need to read extensively, actively and deeply.) To succeed in this era, your child needs to be pushed to think, analyse and create.

In a nutshell, today’s curriculum is geared towards thinking and training the human mind to be sharp and creative. I believe this is the spirit of education, and it is also something we embody here at Academia.

I know you want answers. If you missed this session, I invite you to join me for my next  Parents’ Workshop. I’ll be giving you an aerial snapshot of the entire English curriculum – the helicopter perspective that will help you to shine a light on the path ahead for your child. We will discussing the examinable expectations for your child and what they need to do to meet those expectations.

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