Radicalization of Geographical Education in Singapore through Powerful Knowledge and Powerful Pedagogy, pp. 4 of 5


Knowledge is powerful. It is powerful if we are able to understand, interpret, analyze and critique it. It is powerful if we can make sense of it through our lenses and the skills that enable us to use that knowledge (Roberts, 2014). In a paper presented at the CPPS Westminster Seminar in 2012, Robin Alexander suggests that by acknowledging that knowledge is an essential part of education, “it has challenged those who claim that knowledge is redundant, subjects are old hat, and a modern curriculum should deal instead with skills and creativity” (2012, p.3).

Hogan et al. (2012), in their research on instructional practices in Singapore, reminds us that the given curriculum is not sufficiently effective for raising standards, but what is important is the curriculum that is executed by teachers using good pedagogy and “the most effective way to raise and maintain standards…is to improve teaching and learning” (Alexander, 2012, p. 8). This is especially important in our school geography education as “geography has remained essentially relevant to the needs of Singapore and the changing world” (Chang, 2014, p. 36).

Young’s notion of powerful knowledge is indeed “powerful” but without curriculum and pedagogy working hand-in-hand, and without embracing student agency in curriculum making, “knowledge is [only] potentially powerful” (Roberts, 2014, p. 205). So what if it appears to be powerful? It will only be just a toothless lion. What we want is a robust framework that sees the importance of and integrates curriculum and pedagogy so that the “meaningful connection” between disciplines and students’ experiences alluded to by Beck (2013) can occur. Who knows? This may just engage our students more and improve what Chang (2014) paints as a dismal picture of decreasing enrolment of both geography students and geography trainee teachers in Singapore.

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

Newsletter Subscription

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up-to-date with new journal issues!