Focus on concepts, not standard answers

Focus on concepts, not standard answers

WE THANK Mr Victor Tan Siak Khian for his feedback on the primary science curriculum ("Ensure teachers can explain use of keywords"; Thursday).

The primary science curriculum encourages pupils to learn science through understanding basic concepts and applying what they have learnt in different contexts.

A key aim of the primary science curriculum is to excite pupils in learning science, and to nurture a sense of wonder about nature.

While there are certain scientific terms and concepts taught in the primary science syllabus, pupils can demonstrate their understanding by using their own words in explaining concepts.

The focus of learning science is not on giving "standard answers" or keywords, but on developing students' ability to inquire, understand and explain scientific phenomena.

We do not encourage students to reproduce "standard answers" or be fixated with memorising keywords, as different application contexts would require different responses.

The learning of science does require a certain level of clarity though, in the way concepts are explained, given the context of the question.

Otherwise, we may end up endorsing misconceptions in students or rewarding them for ambiguous responses.

As a simple illustration, saying that water has "evaporated" or "turned into water vapour" is fundamentally different from saying that water has "disappeared".

The former shows an understanding that water still exists but has just changed its state, while the latter suggests that it no longer exists.

The Ministry of Education welcomes feedback from parents and will continue to work with schools to support the teaching and learning of science.

We strive to provide rich learning experiences which stimulate students' interest and help them appreciate the relevance of science in everyday life.

Sng Chern Wei
Curriculum Planning and Development Division 1
Ministry of Education


This article was first published on May 9, 2015.
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