History

Designing Classrooms of the Future Now!

"Keywords: classroom design, innovation, learning environments In this article we showcase the work of three teachers in redesigning classroom learning environments to enhance student learning. Through short interview excerpts, a video, and classroom photos we feature ten design ideas they used to redesign their classrooms. In the article we also argue that despite lofty rhetoric espousing pedagogical innovation and 21st century learning, classroom design provides the most visible sign of what schools and educational leaders actually believe and value. We call for greater attention to the ways classroom spaces constrain and enable teaching and learning that can better support important 21st century educational outcomes. "

The “New” Multiculturalism: National and Educational Perspectives

"As a self-ascribed “multiracial nation” Singapore has risen to the challenge of managing diversity through its official “Multicultural, Multiracial, Multireligious and Multilingual” (4Ms) components of nation building. The mantra of “unity within diversity,” prompted by economic and political pragmatism rather than a more nuanced understanding of diversity itself, co-opted the education system as a part of societal governance and management. “Comfortable,” yet at times questionable, notions of how diversity was understood, presented and executed in schools dominated the institutionalised narratives prior to more recent seismic changes and challenges which are now compelling the nation to consider the fuller complexity of what diversity or multiracialism/multiculturalism actually entails. "

Old Ideas Made New Again

"I started teaching long ago. The air was full of new ideas about curriculum and teaching methods. In the United States and the United Kingdom we had the “New Social Studies,” “New Math,” exciting hands-on science projects, and the like. It was all about engaging learners in the “methods of the discipline,” in doing inquiry not just memorizing facts. This was a long time ago. Today we are hearing these old “new” ideas again."

Teaching Venice in Schools

"This paper aims to briefly survey advances made in the field of Venice studies and explore how these can help enhance the teaching of Venice in schools. Focusing on the early modern period, this essay will discuss issues related to Venetian politics as well as government and society. The issues for discussion are sub-divided into: 1.) Republicanism and related systems; 2.) Political system and corruption as a reason for decline of Venice; and 3.) The wider social / social-political organizations or arrangements as a stabilizing (or destabilizing) force of Venetian society. The choice and clustering of these issues are partly based on the content survey on Venetian studies and partly based on the survey of similar issues of concern occurring in contemporary Singapore society"

Well-being and Humanities Education in Singapore

"In February (2014), I was invited to Nagoya University (Japan) to participate in a symposium on well-being and education in the ASEAN region. Participants from ASEAN nations shared the state of well-being in their nations and considered the role education can play to promote well-being. My participation in this symposium led me to think about well-being in Singapore and the relationship between Humanities education and well-being."

Patriots, Collaborators and the Undecidables in Between: The Contestation between Official and Unofficial History in Malaysia

"In September 2011 the Malaysian press was abuzz with news that a leading member of an opposition party had suggested that the members of the now-extinct Malayan Communist Party (MCP) ought to be recognised as heroes in the anti-colonial struggle against the British. In response to the politician’s comments, a flurry of newspaper reports and editorials emerged, alleging, among other things, that the politician was a closet Communist and that “Communist elements” were still active in the country. Compounding matters was the role played by members of the country’s Majlis Profesor Negara (National Professors Board) who then claimed that British Malaya was never colonised by the British, which then opened the way for what came to be known as the “Colony vs Protectorate” debate. This article looks at how the contestation over meaning, facts and interpretation in Malaysia is particularly heated in the domain of official historiography, and highlights the political dimension of such debates as they occur in Malaysia’s ever-contested public domain."

Historical Concepts and National Examinations: Have O-Level Structured-Essay Questions Encouraged the Teaching of Historical Concepts?

"The term ‘second-order historical concept’ pops up a lot these days in Singapore’s history education community. Concepts such as causation, significance, and evidence are increasingly being discussed in secondary schools across the island. These historical concepts “help students understand how historians work and how historical knowledge is constructed”, and they underpin history as a discipline (MOE, 2012). In this article I analyse Structured Essay Questions (SEQs) from past O-Level History Elective examinations to determine which historical concepts have traditionally been assessed in the summative national assessments. Based on this preliminary analysis, the article focuses on whether the examinations have encouraged the teaching of second-order historical concepts, and discusses possible ways forward for the assessment of these concepts."

Squatters into Citizens: The 1961 Bukit Ho Swee Fire and the Making of Modern Singapore. By Loh Kah Seng. Singapore: NUS and NIAS Presses, 2013. 330 pp. $38.00 (paper).

"Loh Kah Seng’s new book, Squatters into Citizens: The 1961 Bukit Ho Swee Fire and the Making of Modern Singapore (NUS & NIAS Presses, 2013) provides a highly interesting social history of urban kampongs in Singapore and the modernist public housing scheme that transformed Singapore. Loh, currently an Assistant Professor at the Institute for East Asian Studies at Sogang University in South Korea, is also the author of Making and Unmaking the Asylum: Leprosy and Modernity in Singapore and Malaysia (2009). "

Turning the Tables on History Education in Singapore: The Flipped Classroom Experience in NUS High School of Math and Science

"This paper looks at how a flipped classroom model was implemented for 75 Integrated Humanities students in the NUS High School of Mathematics and Science in 2012 and highlights the advantages and limitations of this pedagogy. The flipped classroom model requires students to watch a recorded lecture before coming to class. After gaining content knowledge prior to class time, students are then required to apply it at a higher level of learning. Keywords: Flipped Classroom , History, Integrated Humanities, Specific strands: Pedagogy, Innovative ideas & approaches "

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."

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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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