Free up teachers to 'just teach'

As a former teacher and head of department, I urge the Education Ministry and schools to relook teachers' roles.

Teachers spend more time on other duties than on fulfilling their fundamental role - to teach, mark students' work and provide feedback on learning. Perhaps this is why teachers have left the profession to "just teach" at tuition centres or become adjunct teachers.

Teaching entails an input of knowledge and skills, an assessment of the students' grasp of these, and providing feedback on how much has been learnt. If teachers' roles are clearly defined, this cycle of learning will be complete.

Having taught history, I welcomed the ministry's initiative to move away from rote learning to focus on higher-order thinking skills. But the implementation saddened me.

Content was taught and videos were shown to spur the students' interest, but only one piece of work - the continual assessment - was marked per term. When queried, the teacher said it was impossible to mark assignments by six to eight classes each week. Without feedback on their work, how are students and their parents supposed to know if learning has taken place?

Learning has to take place in school and definitely not at tuition sessions; most students will not need tuition if learning has taken place in school. So leave the teachers to teach. Give them time to mark their students' work and provide feedback - and learning will take place.

Anne Chia (Ms)

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