The Singapore experience

This huffington post article discusses the excellence of the Singapore education system. I don’t miss the crowds, the weather or the rudeness of many of the general public I met on my last couple of trips down there, but I do miss the education system. Having worked in that system, and had all my kids spend most of their years in that system before moving across to Australia, I can vouch for this system that had a lot going for it. What it didn’t have, I understand they tried to fix after I left…. I have no idea if they succeeded.

I worked in the education system for 23 years before moving across here. As a teacher, I was moulded to excellence. I doubt I would have seen the potential in myself if there weren’t such a strong culture of mentoring and sharing within the system. For the ten years before I left, I took on leadership roles that enabled me to mould other teachers, enabling every teacher to be their best for the student. This was not an individualised, solitary job where the teacher was cloistered in a classroom of their own, left to their own devices to do as they pleased with the student. Here, we had the flexibility to create avenues for excellence, in our case, to mentor teachers, hold collaborative planning sessions, long before it became the buzzword anywhere else. I miss that now. I doubt anyone even knows what I do in my classroom. Before I got my permanency here, my job focus was on doing the right thing to get and keep a job… Not on refining my craft. The first 3 years here, I moved constantly from one school to another, all with different systems, and all leaving me with no sense of accomplishment. In short stints like this, I was told to teach in particular ways, many of which promoted practises that had gone out of fashion ages before. It was a depressing period in time for me, and led me many a time to consider leaving the profession. A couple of the schools I was in were more enlightened …. In one, the principle saw the value of my work and tried hard to keep me on staff …. To no avail…. Policy from on high overrode everything else and I slumped back to moving to short stints again. What I see is 5 years of wasted time before I got into the school I am currently in…. I love it here. But where in Singapore we can’t condone the wastage of manpower and expertise, here we are all expendable.

Today, I don’t do half of what I could do as a teacher back in Singapore. I don’t have the recognition, the resources, the up to the minute training. I miss the education system … And the saddest thing I think is, where in Singapore we would have craved learning from best practices from around the world, here, no one wants to know.


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