Afandi, Suhaimi

Affiliations: 
National Institute of Education, Singapore

The New Inquiry-based Approach: What It Means for the Teaching and Learning of History in Singapore Schools

"Secondary Humanities teachers in Singapore are well-acquainted with recent developments and changes that accompanied the launch of the new history syllabus in October 2012. A most notable development was the adoption of inquiry-based learning as the recommended pedagogy for instruction. What was the logic for this change? Why was there a need to pursue inquiry-based learning for school history? What was the spirit behind the change? What did the curriculum developers hope to achieve by pushing for an inquiry approach to history learning? Some of these answers can be obtained from the Singapore Ministry of Education syllabus documents, the Teaching and Learning Guides (TLGs), and other related documents. In this commentary, I offer some of my personal thoughts on the matter and I focus on some issues that require addressing if we are serious about proposing an instructional approach that aims to develop students’ disciplinary thinking in history."

Anxieties Over Singapore Students’ Conceptions About History and The Past

"Understanding history can be an intellectually challenging task for many students in schools. It requires students to contemplate issues, events and people who had lived in the distant past and who are often far removed (from them) in time and familiarity. Such challenges, however, have seldom been satisfactorily addressed in many history classrooms in Singapore. "

Developing Historical Habits of Mind through Inquiry

"Teaching history is not simply about getting students to learn “the right stories” or getting them to absorb transmitted knowledge about the past; it requires teachers to find means to develop students’ historical understanding and to help these students make sense of the knowledge imparted through daily classroom instruction. As many of us already recognize, the knowledge we have about the past is never “given” or “just there” for the taking; the manner in which we come to know what we know about the past requires questioning, imagining, contextualising and (re-)constructing. History education researchers across many national contexts would agree that students need to be taught to understand the nature of historical knowledge – how such knowledge is constructed, how evidence is used to develop interpretations or support claims, how evidence/interpretation is adjudged as valid or credible, etc. "

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An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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