How High’s the Water, Mama? A Reflection on Water Resource Education in Singapore, pp. 11 of 33

The questions serve as the organisational framework of the syllabus, using questions instead of statements as a framework , as was done in 2006 (Table 1).

As seen in Table 1, in the 2014 syllabus, the issue of Water Shortage is unpacked systematically through the five broad guiding questions which are aligned to the geographical inquiry approach. Such an inquiry learning approach was adapted from Roberts’ (2013) who saw how learning is more effective when students are encouraged to question, investigate and think critically about issues affecting the environment and people’s lives, now and in the future. The issue is also designed with an accompanying field-based learning with inquiry elements, termed Geographical Investigation (GI). This was intended to extend students’ knowledge beyond water supply and conservation issues, to a field-based appreciation of how human activities can affect the quality of water. This is particularly important given Singapore’s closed-loop approach to water management.

How High’s the Water Mama? Revisited

In addition to the Water Shortage theme questions outlined in Table 1, the question of too much water is explored in the Urban Living Theme (Floods – How Can Cities Prepare for Floods?). Under this theme, lower secondary students will explore questions including: which cities are prone to floods? Why are these cities more prone to floods than others? How do floods affect people living in cities? How should cities prepare for floods? These are important questions, and while Singapore is well beyond counting the number of inundated steps to monitor flooding conditions, other issues of uncertainty have arisen, with respect to climate change, increasing frequency of extreme rainfall events, and sea level rise. Irvine (2013; 2015) discusses the challenges to design and plan for urban drainage to manage flooding conditions when traditionally such designs are based on the assumption of climate stationarity; yet in many areas, including Singapore, we are experiencing increasingly frequent, high intensity storms.  The O-level Geography syllabus explicitly considers the question of increasing weather extremes.  The issue of rising sea level impact on Singapore’s coast has been explored as an academic topic of interest (e.g. Ng and Mendelsohn, 2005; NUS student project), but coastal change and sea level rise also are explored as part of the O-level Geography syllabus that examines the question, Why are Coastal Areas Valuable?

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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