Speech by Associate Professor Dr Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education, at the NIE teachers’ investiture ceremony, at the Nanyang auditorium, Nanyang Technological University

Published Date: 03 July 2019 12:00 AM

News Speeches

Mr Lai Chung Han, Chairperson, NIE Council

Professor Christine Goh, Director, NIE

Colleagues

Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen

Good morning

1. I am happy to be here with you today as you celebrate a significant milestone in your teaching career. Congratulations to the 510 graduating teachers who have completed the Postgraduate Diploma in Education programmes. Welcome to the teaching fraternity!

2. Teaching is not just a profession; it is a mission that you carry. Children, like clay, are moulded and shaped by the hands of a teacher. You are placed in a privileged position to touch and change lives. I would thus like to share three things to keep in mind as you embark on this new journey today.

3. First, help your students discover the joy of learning. Students who are intrinsically motivated to learn will see knowledge as a worthwhile pursuit and find joy and excitement in their learning. As teachers, you need to help your students understand the broader objectives of education and know that examination and grades are not everything. Create a positive learning environment and deliver your lesson in a way that interests your students. The engaging

4. Through the course of your training at NIE, all of you would have had a first-hand experience designing engaging lesson experiences for students. In a particular Group Endeavours in Service Learning project entitled “Kids Konnect”, co-led by Merilyn Lim Huay Sian and Danial Amjad Bin Abdul Aziz, tactile books were designed to engage visually impaired children and youths in positive learning experiences. Marilyn and Danial’s team applied pedagogical strategies they learned to customise, plan and facilitate learning for these students. With the tactile books, the visually impaired children and youths could access and explore the wonderful world of stories and in the process, develop their literacy skills in a fun and engaging way.

5. At ExCEL Fest this year, I came across a school that leveraged technology to encourage spontaneity and self-directed discovery. The teachers at Temasek Primary School used augmented reality to design and create mobile learning packages on Science topics such as Light, to make learning come alive for students. The lesson involved students exploring different parts of the school to discover properties of light in a fun and authentic way. This is the joy of learning we want to see in students. Remember to give them the freedom, time and space to think, explore and discover.

6. Second, make it safe for your students to try, fail and try again. Everyone experiences failure and as teachers, you can create a safe space for students to experiment and find new or better ways of doing things. Encourage them to learn from their mistakes and persevere and try until they succeed. Let them know that it is alright to fail, that it is more important to keep trying and not give up. Build their resilience. There are parents who see failure as part of a child’s journey to greater success as it builds resilience. When my children were in primary school, my wife and I brought them out for a meal whenever they did not win a competition or do well in their studies. During those meals, we talked about how they could learn from that experience and how they could develop their resilience. So when your students do not do well in your class, see it as an opportunity to help them grow from the experience.

7. There is one amongst you today who has shown great resilience in his pursuit of teaching as a career. He is Wong Zi Heng from the Post-Graduate Diploma in Education Programme. Despite losing his mobility due to spinal injuries he sustained in an unfortunate accident, Zi Heng did not let his physical condition deter him from pursuing his dream of becoming a teacher. He strives to be an example of how people with disabilities can contribute meaningfully to society and hopes that as a teacher, he can inspire his students to face their fears and challenges, just like how he did. I encourage you to adopt the same can-do attitude that Zi Heng has exemplified. Try new things and be prepared to fail. Seek help when you need it, as you are now part of a larger community of educators who form a strong network of mentors to support you on this journey.

8. Third, encourage your students to learn for life. Our schools are committed to preparing children to learn for life. Our education system has evolved, with different pathways for children to develop their varied abilities, in their own terms and at their own time. As you start your posting in schools, remember to recalibrate the definitions and measurements of success and seek to balance the joy of learning with the rigour of education. Recognise the strengths in your students and impart knowledge in a manner that meets their learning needs. Help them learn, unlearn and relearn effectively. Encourage your students to adopt a growth mindset and take ownership of their learning and lifelong development.

9. On this note, I would like to mention Kevin Martens Wong Zhi Qiang, a graduate of the Post-Graduate Diploma in Education Programme, who has exemplified the meaning of learning for life. Kevin is actively involved in the revival of the Kristang language, a critically endangered creole of the Portuguese-Eurasian community that is spoken by fewer than 500 people across Malacca and Singapore today. Not wanting to let the language of his maternal grandparents be forgotten with time, Kevin decided to learn the language from older Kristang speakers in 2015. The following year, he initiated a series of adult language classes for his peers at NUS. Kevin has also spoken about Kristang at numerous conferences on language acquisition and revitalisation, both in the region and in the US, UK, Finland and Alaska. Today, he has developed a 160-hour language curriculum, as well as a 30-year plan, to revitalise Kristang. His motivation and perseverance to revitalise the language is most commendable.

10. Before I end, I want to share two things to bear in mind as you journey through your career as a teacher and in life. First, do not underestimate your role and ability to inspire your students. Something simple and non-eventful to you may well be significant for your student. From today, you have a very important role to play, not only within your school but also in the community and society at large.

11. Second, as we want our kids to learn for life, we need to role model how we learn for life. As we inspire our children, our children also inspire us. Never forget this because every one of us, including the children that we teach, have strengths. As educators, we have many opportunities to learn from our students, so never underestimate how our students can inspire us to become better educators and better people.

Conclusion

12. In closing, I urge each of you to always keep in mind your motivations for choosing teaching as your vocation. Teaching is a calling which influences generations of children. Be the teacher who leads, cares and inspires, and help every student realise their potential and dreams to make a positive difference in the world.

13. Thank you.

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