Singapore’s 21st- Century Teaching Strategies

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Education Everywhere Video Series

This new video series takes a look at high-achieving education systems and model schools around the world to see what makes them successful. This series is a co-production with the Pearson Foundation; visit their “Strong Performers and Successful Reformers in Education” page for more information about Singapore.

Singapore Fast Facts

  • When Singapore gained its independence in 1965, most of its population of two million people were unskilled and illiterate.
  • The government invested in education, and by the early 1970s, all children had access to lower secondary education.
  • In 2009, the first year Singapore participated in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests, they placed near the top for all tested subjects: fifth for reading, second for mathematics, and fourth for science. See all 2009 PISA scores.
  • Teaching is a highly-respected and well-compensated profession in Singapore. All teachers are trained at the country’s National Institute of Education (NIE).
  • All new teachers are paired with experienced teachers for mentoring, and peer feedback is built into the schedule.
  • Teachers are entitled to 100 low or no-cost hours of professional development each year.
  • There are approximately 522,000 students attending about 350 schools in Singapore’s education system.
  • Class sizes are large, especially at the secondary level, averaging 36 students per class.

In the coming months, look for episodes about Canada, Shanghai, and Germany. See the Finland episode here or visit our global learning resource page for more resources.

Source: Singapore: Rapid Improvement Followed by Strong Performance PDF report by the OECD, from the Strong Performers and Successful Reformers in Education: Singapore page by the Pearson Foundation.

In Singapore sixth grade students are working on solving math problems that 95% of US students don’t attempt until the 8th grade at the earliest. There are 40 students per classroom, the parents speak three different languages at home, the textbooks, teachers guides and related are all printed in English and are paperback, their supplemental math program is which was developed in India. A well thought out, well executed very effective process.


I came across this picture and began thinking about the word CURIOSITY….

CURIOSITY is “a spirit of inquiry” or “a wish to learn and know.”  I was the student in class that was CURIOUS about everything.  I had the D2L (Desire to Learn) and still do.  I seek out blogs, read, research, and attend workshops/conferences.  CURIOSITY is that desire to want to know more and to find/research information that is your passion.  It is what drives the innovation and creativity of ones desires.  CURIOSITY is the desire to find out about the world around us, and our place in it; a craving for knowledge or the need to understand what surrounds us. I think most of us are born with a strong sense of curiosity, but how that stays with us depends a lot on the people around us. I’m one of the lucky ones who’s been surrounded by people who encouraged this sense of wonder, so I never lost it.

 I wonder, “What is that?” “What’s its purpose?” and “How does it work?”   What can we as teachers do to help encourage our students’ curiosity?

 1.   Act as a facilitator.  Helping students explore opportunities to discover personal understanding aides them in owning educational experiences.  It is good for students to LEARN, LEAD, and CONNECT.

2.  Think of the classroom as a learning lab, and organize activities and lessons accordingly. Experimenting with a wide range of experiences increases future learning across subject areas.  EXPLORE, ENGAGE, and EXPERIMENT.

3.  Encourage student-created questions to develop higher-order thinking. Allowing students to analyze situations and determine multiple solutions increases problem-solving abilities.

4.  Develop collaborative work groups in which students explore solutions as a team. Helping students to learn from one another and defend their point of view to peers develops confidence, as well as critical thinking skills.

5.  Provide hands-on activities and promote independent research using readily available materials. Developing perseverance through trial and error gives students a sense of how hypotheses become theories.

6.  Integrate the free use of technology for study and research.  (BYOD, iTouches, iPads, Google Tvs, Laptops, Computers, Nooks, Kindles….etc.)