Volume 8, Issue 2 2019

HSSE Online Editorial

The social studies scene in Singapore is rapidly evolving. Revised curricula are being rolled out together with renewed accentuation on more active and engaging pedagogies and deliberate emphasis on enabling and empowering every student to become an independent learner, a critical thinker and a culturally sensitive citizen. This edition of HSSE Online brings together ideas from teacher educators and practitioners on student-centred pedagogies, particularly, inquiry-based learning that aim to achieve these citizenship education goals.

In the first article, Melvin Wang, Mashita Abdol Rahman, Sudheesh Balakrishna Pillai and Goh Yong Yong share a school-based case study of how primary sources can be used to create inquiry-based, student-centered learning experiences in the primary social studies curriculum. Their innovative study highlights the potential of using sources to stimulate inquiry and deepen children’s understanding of social studies content. Chee Min Fui extends the potential of using sources to stimulate children’s inquiry into culture so as to broaden and deepen their learning about that concept. She offers useful examples of enduring understandings about culture together with suggested classroom inquiry activities such as interviewing resource persons about their culture.

Inquiry outside the classroom in the form of fieldwork is the focus of the next article where Sim Hwee Hwang shares about the merits of doing fieldwork in children’s localities, identifies the different children’s localities and suggests themes for possible fieldwork.  Guidelines on how to plan such fieldwork for effective learning as well as two examples of fieldwork in children’s localities are included. The inquiry method is exemplified in Yang Peidong and Chow Lee Tat’s article in which they share the findings of a research that was carried out to find out the characteristics and experiences of immigrant teachers in mainstream Singapore primary and secondary schools. The research also focused on the practical challenges and value tensions that these immigrant teachers encounter in their professional settings.

In the final article Kho Ee Moi advocates the use of differentiated instruction so as to enable every child to learn and make sure no child falls between the cracks. The article highlights the need for differentiated instruction to manage the increasing diversity in our classrooms today and explains, with examples, how this can be carried out in the primary social studies classroom.

We hope you will be encouraged through these articles to use more inquiry-based instructional methods and differentiated instruction in the social studies classroom. Although many of the ideas shared here are centred on the primary social studies curriculum, they can easily be adopted and adapted for secondary school.

 

Kho Ee Moi
Sim Hwee Hwang
Chee Min Fui

Editors, HSSE Online

Provoking Inquiry: The Use of Primary Sources in the Primary Social Studies Classroom

"Primary sources of information are often used by teachers to spark curiosity about the past, develop multiple perspectives and foster critical thinking in students. This article focuses on how and why primary sources can be used to create inquiry-based, student-centered learning experiences in the primary social studies curriculum. It demonstrates how primary students can use the modified See, Think, Wonder approach to draw well-reasoned inferences about the past corroborated by evidence from primary sources of information."

Teaching The Enduring Understandings About Culture in Primary Social Studies

"Educating the young for multicultural understanding and social cohesion are amongst the most important goals of Social Studies. Teachers can broaden and deepen the learning of the concept of culture in order to help students to understand cultural differences and similarities across different communities and to better appreciate the diversities in their midst. This paper offers several enduring understandings about culture that can guide curricular and instructional decisions. Finally, it suggests learning activities that teachers can consider to augment the food, festival and artefacts approach that is commonly used in schools to teach about cultural diversity."

Primary Social Studies Fieldwork in Children’s Localities and Beyond

"Children’s localities and beyond offer potential for young learners to connect with and understand their world. This article explores what children’s localities and the merits of doing fieldwork are. It identifies the different children’s localities and themes for fieldwork, examines the inquiry fieldwork approach and suggests how to plan such fieldwork for effective learning. The article also provides two examples of fieldwork in children’s localities based on student teachers’ fieldwork packages. "

Immigrant Teachers in Singapore Schools: Backgrounds, Integration, and Diversification

"Immigrant-background teachers make up a fragment of the teacher population in mainstream Singapore schools. Though modest in terms of number, the presence of these teachers in the Singapore teaching workforce is arguably significant in other ways. To date, little research attention has been paid to this unique group of teachers. Based on a Ministry of Education-National Institute of Education (MOE-NIE) funded study (OER 16/17 YPD), this article provides an overview of the characteristics and experiences of immigrant teachers in mainstream Singapore primary and secondary schools, with a focus on the practical challenges and value tensions they encounter in the professional settings. Findings show that immigrant teachers are generally well integrated into the Singapore education system notwithstanding certain challenges. Meanwhile, some teachers’ experiences of negotiating with value differences suggest that immigrant teachers may have the potential to add diversity to the education system, although this potential appears to be limited by the pragmatic imperative of professional integration."

So That All May Learn: Differentiating Instruction in the Primary Social Studies Classroom

"There is increasing diversity in our classrooms today. In order to manage this diversity, enable every child to learn and make sure no child falls between the cracks, we need to reconsider how we plan and enact our lessons. Our past practice of a “One size fits all” lesson may be expedient but is no longer sufficient to meet the learning needs of our students. Differentiated instruction is a recommended approach for educators who acknowledge the diverse needs of learners and who want to help all their learners achieve the required academic standards. This paper attempts to explain in simple terms what Differentiated Instruction is and to show, with examples, how it can be planned and carried out in the primary social studies classroom."

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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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