Forum: Teachers bear added pressure of making changes in education policies work, Forum News & Top Stories


    I applaud the call for principals to give teachers more breaks and ease their mental burden (Teachers’ workload: Measures in place to ease burden, says Chan Chun Sing, Nov 2).

    Although the move is aimed at ostensibly addressing the demands of home-based learning because of Covid-19, I believe the pandemic situation was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

    Our education system has gone through a number of seismic shifts in recent years: a new PSLE scoring system, introduction of the Integrated Programme and International Baccalaureate diploma programme, as well as subject-based banding, just to name a few.

    It is little wonder that teachers, not to mention parents and students, have had to scramble every time policymakers announced changes. Teachers have the added pressure of implementing the changes and making them work.

    At this point, it is critical to ask: What is the purpose of our education system today? Has it changed from the past, or are we merely changing the way we implement ideas?

    If it is to ensure Singapore’s survival by producing future-ready workers, are we risking an “erosion of childhood” by introducing more academic elements with potentially detrimental effects?

    As much as the reforms are well-intended, there may be a need to examine whether the slew of changes are contributing to teachers’ workload.

    The Straits Times’ report highlighted increased mental health problems in teachers, and Education Minister Chan Chun Sing urged parents to avoid putting excessive demands on teachers.

    In the book Ready Or Not, psychologist Madeline Levine points out that parental interference can lead to accumulated disability that is harmful for a child in the long run.

    And much of this stems from parents’ anxiety and fear in a vuca (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world as much as an outdated mentality on success being dependent on academic achievement.

    Perhaps it is time parents were educated on how to “parent”.

    Tay Yu Shan


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