Evolution of the Primary School Social Studies Curriculum in Singapore: From ‘Moulding’ Citizens to Developing Critical Thinkers, pp. 10 of 13

New directions in Citizenship Education: The informed, Concerned and Participative Citizen

NE was reviewed in 2007 by a committee specially appointed by the Minister of Education, Tharman Shanmugaratnam. Among the findings of the review was that while NE was acknowledged as necessary and the core programs were sound, these programs were unevenly implemented in schools (MOE, 2007). In schools where NE was not well implemented, students had indicated that they were unexcited and some even “expressed cynicism at what they felt was ‘propaganda’” (MOE, 2007, p. iv). This is unsurprising as the first secondary Social Studies syllabus was designed around the six NE messages. Presented like slogans or jingles, these messages certainly evoked ideas of indoctrination and hype.

Consequent to the 2007 review, a revised framework for the next phase of NE was recommended. The “Head, Heart, Hands” framework was proposed as a more integrated approach to developing the outcomes of “Love, Know and Lead” Singapore. The three elements are seen as intertwined and working in tandem together. The “Heart, Head, Hands” framework encapsulate the outcomes of loving, appreciating and belonging (Heart), knowing, thinking and understanding (Head) and contributing, creating and leading (Hands).

Revised primary social studies curriculum, 2012

The 2007 review of NE resulted in a new primary social studies curriculum published in 2011 for implementation in 2012. The “Heart, Head, Hands” framework is translated in the outcomes of the revised 2012 social studies curriculum for primary schools as the informed, concerned and participative citizen. Although the new curriculum for 2012 continued to emphasise the vulnerability of Singapore, constraints due to the lack of natural resources, the need for social cohesion and the responsibility of everyone to contribute to the survival of the nation state, the curricular aims do indicate a move towards a more democratic and social reformist model of citizenship education. Some significant curriculum aims are listed below:

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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