May 23, 2018
MOE textbooks encourage conceptual learning
We thank Ms Irene Lee for her letter (MOE-endorsed textbooks not enough for exams; May 16).
To better prepare our students, we believe in nurturing them to be critical thinkers who are able to analyse and use information effectively.
The school curriculum and teaching materials are geared towards helping students understand fundamental concepts, and then progressively helping them acquire skills which they can apply in a variety of contexts and real-world situations.
Students are also encouraged to ask questions and find answers to them, through experimentation and research.
For example, science textbooks in primary schools build on the understanding of concepts over the four-year curriculum (Primary 3 to Primary 6), and provide application contexts to demonstrate those concepts being used in real life.
The textbooks are accompanied by workbooks which provide practice examples and activities for hands-on learning.
For instance, pupils can experience hands-on activities on light sources and shadow formation. They can then better appreciate the natural phenomena and applications of light in everyday life.
In addition, when assessing our students' understanding of a topic, one objective is to test their ability to apply their understanding in novel contexts.
It is more important, for example, for students to understand the characteristics of mammals than to memorise which animals are mammals. This way, students will be able to apply the concept of mammals to recognise and differentiate animals which they may not have come across.
This is why our textbooks and exams are designed the way they are - not to facilitate mere rote learning, but to stimulate and encourage conceptual learning and application.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) will continue to review teaching resources to ensure their effectiveness, and work closely with schools and educators to support our students' educational needs.
Sin Kim Ho
Curriculum Planning and Development Division
Ministry of Education