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— An Exclusive Interview with Mdm Heng Boey Hong, Principal of Nanyang Girls’ High School
多元推进构建21世纪教育蓝图 — 专访南洋女子中学校王梅凤校长
Advancing in Diversity, Mapping for a 21st Century Education
— An Exclusive Interview with Mdm Heng Boey Hong, Principal of Nanyang Girls’ High School
Chu Luo Jun
Photos courtesy of Nanyang Girls’ High School
Published: EduNation,Issue 4, July-August 2013
In today’s ever more interconnected world Nanyang Girl’s High School (NYGH) strongly believes in the importance of developing its students’ global competency as a key means to preserve and develop its spirit of innovation and giving — to make a difference. It was with this in mind that NYGH created the Strategic Alliance of Global Educators (SAGE), and added another first to its distinguished list of records.

Global Synergy by Education Leaders

NYGH firmly believes that the future of education lies in the collaborative efforts of global education leaders. To inculcate a culture of global interconnectedness and respect in children, school leaders must take the first step. Along with nine other founding members from China, the United Kingdom (UK), the United States (US), Australia and Singapore, NYGH set up SAGE to help meet this objective.

The other member institutions are: the Affiliated High Schools of Fudan and Peking Universities; RDFZ Xishan School and Shanghai No. 3 Girls’ High School from China; The Perse School from the UK; Menlo School from the US; Scotch College from Australia; Hwa Chong Institution and the School of Science and Technology from Singapore. The East Asian Institute is also a Conference Sharing Partner. These schools cover the whole educational landscape from public to private, and from girls to boys.

Notwithstanding their geographical differences and diverse backgrounds, all SAGE members share the same philosophy of education for the 21st century. “It is this common ground that brings the founding members together,” said Mdm Heng Boey Hong. “We all share the same belief that the critical elements for 21st century education are Bilingualism and Biculturalism, 1–1 Computing in Teaching and Learning, and Experiential Learning. The experiential learning approach is powerful because learners are engaged in meaningful authentic experiences and problem solving. Feedback received through authentic learning is immediate and uncontrived. All SAGE members also offer Chinese Language as a subject and are supportive of using technology to enhance learning.”

SAGE’s vision is summed up in the phrase: “Leaders in education, building a better world together”. Its establishment brings together leaders in a respectful partnership and exchange of expertise.

SAGE intends to hold a biennial international conference and to publish a biennial journal. The aim of this latter is to share ideas and good practices with educators, even if they are not SAGE members. E-newsletters and the SAGE website will also form platforms for sharing ideas.

“Educators will come together at our conferences to interact with each other and to share their thoughts on various education issues,” elaborated Mdm Heng. “We will also publish papers and case studies conducted by SAGE members in the biennial journal. We want to reach out to as many schools as possible from all regions. Hence, all are welcome to attend the conferences and to subscribe to our journals and newsletters.”

Mdm Heng also emphasised that the alliance is not a closed circle. All research and discussion outcomes of SAGE will be available to the public, especially through the e-platforms.

SAGE’s inaugural conference was held last year in Singapore and it attracted 192 representatives from 53 different institutions.

“We enjoyed a lot of interaction during the conference,” said Mdm Heng. “Other than the keynote speakers, all school representatives were given a ten-minute platform to share their ideas on the various issues discussed. In addition, thoughts and views on controversial topics were also raised during the session, after which all the participants gathered into smaller groups to carry out in-depth discussions on topics that were of interest to them. We also invited our guests to visit Hwa Chong Institution, the School of Science and Technology as well as NYGH, as these schools all had good practices to share.”

Mdm Heng confided in us that the setting up of SAGE was, for her, an amazing experience. Initially, she had grave doubts about the willingness of schools to collaborate and form such an alliance. But to her pleasant surprise, the formation of SAGE was a smooth and remarkable journey, with strong support coming from all its partner schools. Indeed, as proof of this the future has already been jointly mapped out with the 2014 conference to be hosted by RDFZ Xishan School in Beijing and the 2016 conference to take place in the UK in conjunction with The Perse School’s 400th anniversary.

Other than conferences for teachers, it is planned that students from the various SAGE schools will also have opportunities to participate in immersion programmes and to visit member institutions in other regions.

As an example of this, students from both The Affiliated High School of Peking University and NYGH will be visiting The Perse School later this year. “Such diverse collaborations will make education an enjoyable journey for us all,” said Mdm Heng.

“The establishment of an alliance like SAGE can boost the relationship among the various schools, building greater trust and opening up opportunities for in-depth discussions. It is common practice for schools, when new to each other, only to showcase their best, and solutions to critical issues in education are therefore neglected. But with the establishment of the alliance, everyone becomes more candid and we can generate more ideas through frank discussions and brainstorming. This, to me, is the greatest value of forming an alliance,” she added.

Global Classroom Programme — Experiential Learning for the Students

The long term goal of NYGH’s vision is “to nurture girls who are globally attuned while strongly grounded in her history and tradition”.

A key means for achieving this is its Global Classroom Programme. “We must allow our students to step out of their comfort zone and see the world. The very name of the Global Classroom Programme implies that enrichment and overseas immersion programmes are an extension of their learning in their own classroom and country,” Mdm Heng shared.

In 2011, the School incorporated elements of experiential learning into the Global Classroom Programme. “Experiential learning provides powerful learning experiences,” said Mdm Heng, “because students are engaged in meaningful opportunities and real world challenges.”

Mdm Heng gave us an example of what this means. “Students are not allowed to have their usual suitcases. All clothing for the three weeks must be packed into a backpack. No transport will be arranged to pick the students up upon arrival. All students walk and take public transport on their own. The desired outcome is for students to understand that they are not there to enjoy life like a tourist but to experience the daily lives of the locals.”

The School feels strongly that opportunities such as the above must be created for the students so that they do not become detached from the real world. This is especially important because the girls’ future capacity to respond meaningfully to people’s needs will be heavily dependent upon their ability to understand real communities.

In 2011, 17 Nanyang girls embarked on a learning journey to Nanjing. Before they came home, they undertook a much needed clean-up of the school toilets. This left a deep impression on the Nanjing school as well as created a buzz in the local media. It was considered remarkable that the NYGH students could not only not walk away from a dirty toilet but felt obligated to clean it up themselves. How had the School managed to nurture such students?

“It is a process,” explained Mdm Heng. “NYGH has always emphasised the importance of citizenry and character education. From teaching in the classrooms to real-life applications during their immersion programmes, we motivate active learning in students through these powerful experiences. Brushes and pails are put in NYGH’s toilets. Hence, students learn the good habit of cleaning the toilets should they have dirtied them. In order to develop good habits we need to nurture the students from a young age and encourage them to apply what they have been taught in their daily lives.”

Boarding School Experience

The Boarding School Experience (BSE) was created so that the Secondary 2 cohort could benefit from a four-week stay-in programme that would allow them to experience living on their own without their parents. Many team bonding activities, including some outdoor ones on Pulau Ubin, are conducted during the month-long stay.

Moving forward, Mdm Heng would like to leverage on the boarding school facilities further to enhance the students’ experience.

“NYGH is always striving for improvement and we hope to strengthen our girls’ beliefs in core values so as to nurture them to become outstanding women. Many boarding schools in the UK have been doing very well in this area.

“Singapore is such a small island and thus most parents don’t want or need their daughters to stay in the boarding school. However, over the past two years, we have seen how our girls have developed good habits after their four-week BSE programme. They have also become more appreciative and aware of different cultures, habits and lifestyles and are more confident when they interact with people of different backgrounds. They also learn to share public space and develop a sense of responsibility when they have to live with different people. The BSE is thus a great learning opportunity for the girls,” she said.

Enhancing Cultural Intelligence through Cross-Cultural Experiences

A 2012 survey of selected students in five prestigious schools, including NYGH, revealed that more than half the students didn’t have any friends from outside their own race or economic class.

Mdm Heng said that this is an issue that needs addressing. “Children of the same race tend to associate in a clique. But what is even more noteworthy is that society in the future will not only be composed of the three main races — Chinese, Malay and Indian. We will have to work with people from all parts of the world. Hence, we need to put in more effort to create platforms that encourage students to respect differences and recognise that the world is not homogeneous. At NYGH we try to guide them to embrace diversity in the world and understand different cultures. This is in addition to knowing the different ethnicities and religions.”

As part of this push NYGH has formed a Cross-Cultural Learning Committee to integrate cultural intelligence into the curriculum. As a result, a Cultural Intelligence Activity Package is now incorporated into the Global Classroom Programme so that students are able to enhance their cultural intelligence and apply what they have learnt when in another country.

Religion is also a topic discussed in school. However, this is done with the aim of deepening and broadening the understanding of the different religions and the focus is on harmony. Since 2011, NYGH has organised the Interfaith Conference together with the South East Community Development Council. During this year’s event, with its theme of Diversity in Action, representatives from different religions shared their thoughts on topics ranging from the environment to poverty from their respective religious points of view.

This year also, the School held a Face to Faith sabbatical at which eight religious leaders, representatives of the major religions in Singapore, were invited to discuss the subject of wealth and poverty and share their views from their own religious perspectives. Students were also given the opportunity to share their personal opinions with these religious leaders. The girls were therefore given a deeper understanding not only of what these religions believe but also of how they can harmoniously co-exist despite their differences. This would not have been possible without the frank and inclusive exchange that such a forum provided.

NYGH’s cross-cultural teaching and learning gained international recognition when it was nominated by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation as one of the lead schools for its Face to Faith (F2F) programme. This year the School was awarded the highest certification by the Foundation which was established by Tony Blair himself in 2008 to promote respect for and understanding of the world’s major religions, and to show how faith can be a powerful force for good in the 21st century.

In spite of NYGH’s success in this area, Mdm Heng recognised that cross-cultural teaching and learning requires prudence. “We realised that not every student is interested in religion or willing to give it deeper thought. Hence, the Interfaith Conference was organised as one of the choices on the buffet of sabbatical courses that we provide for our students, and we make sure that their parents know what this conference entails and give their consent.”

Student Initiated Assessment

The Integrated Programme (IP) started in 2004 for NYGH. Since then, students have not been assessed solely by mid-year and end-of-year examinations. How has the School refined the assessment method for the students?

“One of the methods is to assess the students’ abilities to think, learn and do research independently,” said Mdm Heng.

This was how the Student Initiated Assessment (SIA) came about. SIA not only reduces the weighting of examinations in overall results, it is also a form of experiential learning. Students apply the knowledge they have acquired in the classroom to their daily lives and learn to solve various real-life problems. SIA is completed within a given time frame and the mark constitutes 20 per cent of the final result.

Teachers have a set of assessment rubrics which allows students to exercise their creativity in many ways. For example, the Secondary 3 Language Arts SIA requires students to apply the functional writing skills that they have learnt to real situations in a project that allows them to contribute to society.

An example provided by Mdm Heng illustrates how such a project works. “One group of students submitted a proposal to St Luke’s Hospital for a fundraising activity. In the process, they also wanted to create an opportunity for the School to know the Hospital better and understand its needs. This was a great challenge, so the students went through detailed discussions and conducted surveys. They found out that the common interest amongst their peers was eating ice cream and thus they thought of ways to persuade their schoolmates and teachers to buy ice cream for charity.

“Apart from promoting knowledge of St Luke’s Hospital amongst their peers, the students also discovered that when there was a common goal everyone would come together. The group therefore invited all our teachers and students to work together to achieve the target of breaking a record in the Singapore Book of Records — i.e. having the highest number of people eating ice cream together, at the same time and place.

“The students even found an ice cream sponsor and engaged the media. On the day itself, there were over 1,200 teachers and students eating ice cream on campus. SIA was thus responsible for the teachers and students raising funds for St Luke’s Hospital by eating ice cream whilst simultaneously making it into the Singapore Book of Records. This assignment therefore not only allowed them to practise what the group had learnt in class, but also gave them opportunities to acquire very practical skills to achieve an end,” Mdm Heng said.

1–1 Computing in Teaching and Learning

1–1 computing in teaching and learning is almost a necessity in the 21st century. Two years ago NYGH piloted the use of the iPads in class, starting with two Secondary 1 classes and two Secondary 3 classes. Last year iPads were used across the whole Secondary 2 level and this year the practice has been expanded to include Secondary 3.

NYGH has a clear objective in its use of iPads in teaching and learning, which is not to provide a substitute for hardcopy note-taking, but to transform the learning process itself.

“Learning processes vary from individual to individual and teachers are often troubled and concerned about the different pace of students’ learning. With 1–1 computing, teachers can record the teaching content beforehand and upload it online for the students to watch before the lesson. Students are then able to view a lecture as often as they desire and review the content. This approach allows the students to focus on clarification and discussion in class instead of just attending a lecture. Teachers can also devote more time to assisting students who are still not able to grasp the concepts in the classroom. In addition, 1–1 computing provides students with the opportunity to carry on with unfinished classroom discussions on online platforms,” Mdm Heng explained.

But although information and communication technology (ICT) has transformed traditional teaching methods at NYGH, Mdm Heng also stressed that the teachers’ ability to make informed decisions about its use in teaching and learning is critical. “They need to be aware of the rationale and relevance behind ICT’s use and application so as not to waste time and effort,” she said.

To gather information on the impact of ICT on pedagogy during the pilot phase a research assistant was engaged to observe lessons and record teachers’ and students’ questions when engaged in 1–1 computing in class. The findings of this observation process revealed that with 1–1 computing, teachers and students were able to gain access to information promptly and could spend more time on higher order discussions.

“We have obtained a lot of data to convince our parents. We also found in our data collection process that there are no other teaching methods that can enhance teaching and learning as distinctly as ICT,” Mdm Heng shared.

School Middle Management—Personal Leadership Training by the Principal

Enhancing staff competencies is also critical in NYGH. Since Mdm Heng took over the helm of NYGH in 2010 she has been personally conducting the Middle Management Leadership Development Programme. About 10 to 12 teachers or Heads of Departments are selected each year to participate in this overseas training programme led by Mdm Heng.

“Colleagues selected for this development programme are either part of the current or future middle management of the School. We spend five days every year on this overseas training. I insist on conducting the training overseas as I believe that only by leaving the country can my colleagues’ minds be totally free from school matters, and this gives them the opportunity to do in-depth thinking and discussions without any distractions.

“During training, we embark on discussions for whole days and nights. Topics are usually drawn from the difficulties and challenges we face in school and their solutions. Before solving the problems, I also urge them to look at their own strengths, so as to guide them in understanding their leadership style and qualities better.”

In 2010 the development programme took place in Shanghai and Mdm Heng and her teachers could therefore visit the World Expo as well. In 2011, the programme was held in Bali and the team had a taste of experiential learning afterwards. In 2012, it was conducted in Ho Chi Minh City where the group went to the Asia Pacific Breweries and saw first-hand the success story of this Singaporean company in Vietnam. And in February of this year, Mdm Heng led a team of teachers to visit the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology to find out how this Asian university was able to make its mark on the world’s top university rankings in such a short period of time.

Mdm Heng is clear on why such exposure is necessary. “I am taking my colleagues with me to broaden their horizons as I do not want them only to be looking at what is happening within the School. They should have a broader understanding of the world. NYGH has already reached a certain height. I think it is time for us to also look at what others are doing, especially leaders in different industries. We need to see how they reach greater heights.”

Looking Ahead

An alumna of NYGH herself, Mdm Heng had this to say in the School’s 95th Anniversary publication, 95 Stories of Connected Lives, “NYGH is like a towering tree, always there to protect and provide shade for us. Today, I have the honour to return to my alma mater to serve and pass on the Nanyang spirit and rich heritage.”

SAGE, cross-cultural learning, overseas experiential learning, the use of 1–1 computing in teaching and learning and the introduction of student initiated assessment are some of the ways by which she is doing this.

And when we asked Mdm Heng to sum up her vision for NYGH’s future she was in no doubt. “We need to have our eyes on the world, to seize opportunities and take up challenges along the way. Not only does NYGH need to strive towards being a world-class school, we also need to assume the role of a leader in education.”

Translated by: Lee Xiao Wen
 


精选文章 > 多元推进构建21世纪教育蓝图 — 专访南洋女子中学校王梅凤校长
多元推进构建21世纪教育蓝图 — 专访南洋女子中学校王梅凤校长
丘珞君
图:南洋女子中学校提供
刊载:《新学》, 第4期,2013年7月-8月
南洋女子中学校(简称南中)1917年创办,至今已有96年历史。巾帼不让须眉,南洋女中已是新加坡名校,在过去的四年里,收生的截分点更居全国之冠,所培育出来的学生在社会各领域都有杰出表现。

《新学》新加坡教育双语双月刊专访南中校长王梅凤,看这所伫立于岛国将近一世纪的优秀女子学府,如何发起国际教育联盟、多元推进教育革新,在21世纪跨出新加坡,再攀教育新高峰。

发起国际教育合作联盟

为了在教育事业上更上一层楼,并向来自全球的教育工作者取经、沟通、分享经验,去年,南中借助长久以来建立的友校网络,发起了国际教育合作联盟(SAGE)。国际教育合作联盟,顾名思义,是一个汇聚环球学府及教育工作者的组织。联盟集合了十余所历史悠久、经验丰富的新加坡与外国学府、机构成为会员,一起交流、分享教育心得,同时也广邀各会员学校的友校一同分享。

2012年,契合南洋女中创校95周年之际,十余所会员学校及教育机构组成教育合作联盟。联同南洋女中,分别有:中国上海复旦大学附属中学、北京大学附属中学、人大附中西山学校(人民大学附属中学)、上海市第三女子中学;美国门罗中学;新加坡科技中学、华侨中学;澳大利亚Scotch College Melbourne和英国剑桥柏斯学校,以及东亚研究所(联盟会议合作伙伴)。联盟有男校女校,有公立私立,相当多样化。

联盟会员校虽来自世界各方,面貌也多元化,却对21世纪教育有着共同的办校理念。

王梅凤说:“联盟学校办校的共同点是重视体验式学习,充分利用科技教学,以及推行双语双文化学习。这三个重点,其实都具备21世纪教育与时俱进的教学特色。我们强调体验式教学,让学生从生活体验中学习,而非传统的说教方式灌输知识。联盟学校都学习华文华语,也非常愿意运用科技辅助学习。”

联盟的愿景是“世界教育领导者携手建设更美好的明天”。联盟为不同文化背景的各国教育机构提供互相尊重,共同合作,互相交流的平台,集合各自专长,合力发挥对全球教育的影响力。

联盟每两年举办一次研讨会,隔年收集各校论文,汇集成特刊,通过文字保持联系。王梅凤强调联盟不是封闭的小圈子。联盟的目标是面向全世界,任何人都能出席研讨会或阅览出版物,会员学校只起联系作用。

首届由联盟学校推动的教育研讨会于2012年在新加坡展开。共有192名来自53所学校的代表参加,除了33所新加坡学校外,还有20所来自中国、印尼、文莱等国家的海外学校。

研讨会以非传统的方式进行。王梅凤说:“我们有很多互动——不仅是主讲人发言,每所学校代表都有10至15分钟的时间上台发言。他们可以提出最精彩的,甚至是颇具争议性的论点。研讨之后是小组讨论,大家进行严谨认真的交流讨论。我们同时也邀请外宾参观华侨中学、新加坡科技中学,以及南中。”

王梅凤认为成立国际教育联盟的这段旅程确实给予她许多意想不到的惊喜。她表示虽然和友好学校保持密切交流,却不知道大家是否有组织联盟的意愿。结果出乎意料,各校对于这项合作计划都鼎力支持。接下来几年的工作已经定下,明年研讨会将在中国北京人大附中西山学校举行。2016年正逢英国剑桥柏斯学校的400年校庆,会议将在英国剑桥举行。

年度研讨会以外,各联盟校学生也有机会互访,参与浸濡计划,彼此交流。

王梅凤提到:“今年6月,中国北大附中和南中学生将到英国剑桥的柏斯学校交流。我们大约30名中三、中四学生与三名教师同行。在这将近三周的行程里,与柏斯学校有三天的交流活动。”

多校联盟,让王梅凤感到在教育的路上并不孤单:“成立了这样的组织,能促进学校间更大的团结,对彼此的信任更深,交流也能更深入。过去,大家对彼此不熟悉,第一次见面,当然是把最好的呈献出来,至于背后怎样解决问题的路是看不见的。有了联盟的合作关系,大家会更坦诚、更愿意分享不为人知的秘诀,而听者也不只是停留在知道或羡慕阶段,而会有更多的共鸣和学习。这样的合作意义更大。”

环球课室计划让学生体验学习

能够发起并创建一个国际性教育组织,南中必定拥有非凡的环球视野。南中的长远目标是“培养具备正确价值观的环球公民”。

南中把学生的浸濡和交流计划称作“环球课室计划”。王梅凤说,“古人都说,‘读万卷书行万里路’。如今科技发达、交通便利,当然要让学生看得更多、走得更远。所谓‘环球课室’,意指国外浸濡并不是孤立的学习,而是新加坡课堂学习的延伸。”

2011年,校方把体验式学习融入环球课室计划。

王梅凤说:“体验式学习是一种深层的体会,是让孩子们去感受跟平日天差地远的生活内容。我们规定学生不准拿行李箱,三个星期的换洗衣物都要装在一个背包里。到了那里,也没有旅行巴士等你,所有人都要搭公车、搭火车、走路。我们要学生明白这不是去享受,而是去感受当地人的生活。”

王梅凤也表示如果学校不提供这样的机会,孩子们会和现实社会,乃至整个世界脱节,以为世界就如想象般美好,生活样样如意,这其实并不准确。南中深信只有亲身体验,学生才能深入了解社会中的现实问题及需求,从而思考民生问题并付出行动。

南京体验式学习

2011年,17名南中学生到南京进行体验式学习,离开前帮助“明光金都外来工子弟学校”清洗肮脏不堪的厕所,给全校师生留下深刻印象。这一举动一度引来当地媒体的报道。

面对肮脏和恶臭,南中学生并没有掩鼻而走,反而自发自愿卷起袖子,落手落脚去洗刷干净,做一般访客不会做的事,实在让人刮目相看。学校是如何教出这样的学生?

王梅凤说,“这是一种潜移默化的过程。南中一向重视学生的公民与品格教育,从课程到实践,从知到行,从平时的点滴中对学生产生影响力。学校的厕所都放了桶和刷子,训练学生弄脏了厕所,自行善后。要学生培养好习惯,就必须从平时、从小处做起。”

南洋女中环球课室计划一览表

每名南中学生都有机会到国外交流,经济上有困难的学生,校方及校友会给予协助。以下是南中为各年级所开设的环球课室课程:

从宿舍生活到寄宿学习

中二那年,每名南中学生都会入住宿舍,参加为期一个月的“寄宿生活体验”。那个月有很多团队活动,例如周末到乌敏岛参加一些具冒险性的活动,来增加同学之间互动的机会。

王梅凤认为只有通过“能力和品德”的培养,才能让学生“备受社会尊重”。因此,她希望能在不远的将来更充分地借用宿舍的设施并配合宿舍生活,使得在培养学生们的品德方面有所突破。

她说:“南中精益求精,要加强学生各种能力,使她们更优秀,更上一层楼。英国有很多在这方面做得很好的寄宿学校。

“新加坡土地小,一般家长不舍得让孩子住校。但这几年,中二生住宿一个月的经验,让我们发现寄宿生活与学习可以培养好习惯,学生还能从中学习如何和不同家庭背景的同学同住一房、如何待人接物、如何与人相处。现在很多孩子在家都有自己的房间,从来不知道如何跟别人共用空间以及所应该承担的责任。宿舍生活与学习是一次很好的学习机会。”

跨文化体验提高文化智能

去年,报章报道了一项对100名“名校”学生的调查,显示本地五所名校学生,有超过半数没有外族或与自己不同家庭经济背景的朋友,这100名学生中也有南中学生。

针对《新学》记者这项提问,王梅凤表示,这其实是多数学校共同面对的问题。她说:“同族的孩子还是倾向于聚在一起。我们应更为关注的是,未来的社会不仅有华、巫、印三个种族,还可能跟来自世界各地的人合作。因此,得花更多心思让学生有机会进行‘跨文化’的学习,发展学生的文化智能(Cultural Intelligence)。我们用的方法是鼓励学生尊重差异,让她们从小意识到这个世界是复杂的,是五花八门的。必须引导她们包容并认识各种文化,而不仅是看到肤色和宗教上的不同。”2012年,南中设立了跨文化学习委员会,将发展文化智能融入南中的课程。在环球课室计划中也加入培养文化智能的活动配套,让学生在异国他乡不同的文化背景中实地学习、应用与提升文化智能。

与此同时,校方也不忌讳把对宗教信仰的讨论带入校园,加深学生对不同宗教信仰的认识。2011年开始,南中和东南社区发展理事会合作举办“跨信仰研讨会”。今年的研讨会在3月举行,主题是“跨信仰的现实与可能”,律政部兼教育部高级政务部长英兰妮是当天的贵宾。研讨会上,不同宗教代表针对不同课题,例如“环保”、“贫穷”等,轮流发表个别宗教的看法。

今年,学校还专门开设选修课“信仰面对面”,特邀八位不同宗教领袖代表来校,针对“财富与贫穷”这一现实课题进行交流,并向学生介绍了不同宗教信仰对于财富与贫穷的立场和看法。

学生也有机会向宗教领袖提出自己的看法,包括对一些敏感话题的讨论。通过这样开诚布公、求同存异的跨宗教、跨文化的交流,参与的学生获益匪浅,对各种宗教加深了认识和理解,并且对于宗教之间的和谐共处的重要性与可能性有了更深一层的体会。

南中跨文化的教学已经受到国际认可,被英国前首相托尼·布莱尔信仰基金会(Tony Blair Faith Foundation)选为“信仰面对面”(Face to Faith, F2F)计划中的领袖学校之一。此外,基于南中有效地实施“信仰面对面”计划,南中也于2013年荣获托尼·布莱尔信仰基金会所颁发的最高荣誉卓越成就奖。(信仰基金会2008年成立,宗旨是推动世界各种信仰在21世纪扮演正面角色,致力让不同宗教信仰的人士在共同努力下,建设一个更美好的世界。)

王梅凤指出,做跨文化、跨宗教的学习,必须小心谨慎:“我们发现不是每个学生都对宗教课题有兴趣,愿意做这种比较深层的思考,所以我们把它安排在学期最后一周。跨信仰研讨会是其中一门选修课,让学生自由选择,但之前须先征得家长同意。”

主动学习计划

2004年推行直通车课程后,南洋女中开始不单凭年中和年末考试成绩来评定学生的学习。

校方是怎样改善评估学生的方法呢?王梅凤说,“其中一项是要考评学生独立思考、学习以及做研究的能力。”

这是学生“主动学习计划”(Student Initiated Assessment, SIA)的来源。除了减轻考试成绩的比重,同时也推进体验式学习,让学生把在课堂上所学应用到日常实际生活中,解决不同的问题。学生可以自主决定所要进行研究的项目,根据指定时间完成,得到的成绩占总成绩的20%。

教师有一套合理的评估标准,学生也能发挥无限创意。例如中三的英文主动学习计划要求学生把所学的商业应用文法,通过拟写计划书、公函等,来寻求合作伙伴,共同完成一项对社会有贡献的计划。

王梅凤举例:“当时,一组同学拟好计划书发给圣路加医院,提议双方进行一项筹款活动。不仅如此,院方也希望所有南中学生都能进一步了解圣路加医院。这对学生们来说无疑是个挑战。她们通过详细讨论和问卷调查,发现大家的共同喜好是吃雪糕。她们必须动脑筋说服同学,吸引大家为慈善买雪糕。”

王梅凤解释:“除了不断宣传圣路加医院,学生还发现,只要有一个共同目标,大家就会聚在一起,为达成目标努力奋斗。这组学生于是以创下世界最多人在同一时刻、同一地点一起吃雪糕的纪录为目标,号召全校师生一起参与。

“她们还找到雪糕赞助商,并学会如何通知媒体到校采访。结果,当天共有1200名师生一起在校园里吃雪糕。这项‘主动学习计划’,让全校师生通过吃雪糕为圣路加医院筹款,这项创举最后被列入新加坡纪录大全。这项作业不只让她们操练所学的应用文法,还学到很多在生活上应用的实际技巧。”

iPad教学让学生更会学习

21世纪用科技教学已是不可避免的趋势,南中必须与时俱进。2011年,南中开始试验性让中一和中三各两班学生使用iPad,2012年让全体中二学生使用,今年起扩展到中三。

推行iPad教学,南中的目标明确。校方并不只以iPad替代印刷讲义,而是要把教学与科技有机地结合,改革传统教学。

王梅凤解释:“同一班学生学习的进度不一,教师讲了课,哪个学生能听明白,哪个学生听不明白,一直让教师烦恼。有了一对一电脑教学,教师可以在上课前预录讲课,挂在网上。

“学生在家里下载,上课前先看,一次看不明白,看第二次,直到看明白为止。这样就帮了教师很大的忙。学生听明白了老师的课,到班上来,就可以做进一步的讨论、做作业与练习。这样一来,教师可以集中精力帮助一些学习进度较慢,还听不明白的学生。”与此同时,一对一电脑教学也对“课堂延伸讨论”有利,学生能运用网络平台继续进行课堂中未完成的课题讨论。

运用科技改革了传统教学,带出不一样的学习特性和好处。但是,王梅凤强调这还是需要老师们的智慧,根据学生的学习需求,善加运用科技的辅助,设计学习配套,否则达不到效果。

为了建立大家的信心,在第一年的试验期间,王梅凤请来研究人员,坐在课室里,把教师使用一对一电脑教学后所问的问题,以及学生的发问都记下来。研究人员接着会总结并把他们的问题归类,看看他们问的问题,和没有使用一对一电脑教学时有什么不同。

结果发现,用了一对一电脑教学后,教师和学生有更多时间思考更深层次的问题,师生发问的质量提升了,讨论自然也更深入。王梅凤说,“我们有了非常好的数据来说服家长。我们发现没有任何教学法能如此明确地改进教学。”

校长亲自培训学校中层领导

南洋女中与时俱进,配合时代改进教学法,师资的提升自然马虎不得。自2010年出掌南中,王梅凤每年挑选10至12名教师或主任,由她亲自带队出国,进行领导培训。

王梅凤说:“这些被挑选接受培训的同事,是现任或未来的中层领导。每年有五天时间出国培训。我坚持出国,是因为只有出国才不受家事校务分神,才可以专心进行深度思考和讨论。

“在国外,我们日以继夜地讨论,话题内容集中在学校目前面对的困难,思考要用什么方法解决。在着手解决之前,我要他们审视自己的特长,并引导他们认识自己是个怎么样的领导。”

2010年,适逢上海举行世界博览会,王梅凤带教师到上海培训之余参观世博会。2011年到巴厘岛体验大自然,2012年到越南胡志明市,还拜访当地的新加坡企业亚太酿酒厂,听听大老板的生意经。

今年头,王梅凤带队到香港科技大学,看看这所亚洲大学如何在短时间内跃入世界顶尖大学行列。她说:“我带着同事去看世界,让他们的眼光不只停留在学校,还要对世界有更广的认识。南中已经到了一定的高度,更要看各行业的佼佼者在做什么,看他们如何突破现状。”

继往开来

南中正计划兴建一座室内体育馆。王梅凤说:“没有室内的大型场地,很多活动没办法在下雨天进行。新加坡寸土是金,怎样在只有3.6公顷的现有校地上兴建室内体育馆,使我们考虑不只要往上盖,可能还要往地里钻。”

南中在有限的空间拓展校舍,不断完善教学实施。面对世界无限的教育空间,南中更是充当着教育先锋的角色,从国际教育联盟的发动,到跨文化、跨国界的体验学习计划以及现代教学科技的革新等等,南中一直走在前列。

王梅凤也是南中校友。她曾在南中95周年杰出校友纪念刊《传薪》中写道:“南中是参天大树,过去我享受着她的庇荫;今天我回来母校服务,希望能将南中精神传承下去。”

她强调:“南中有着将近百年的历史积淀,面对世界教育的广阔舞台与未来教育的发展,我们要有世界的眼光与未来的憧憬,机遇与挑战并存,南中不仅要向世界级学校迈进,也要担当起未来教育的引领者角色。”王梅凤的谈话,流露出一种勇于担当、不断开拓进取的的南中精神。

南中迈向百年,《新学》相信南中这株枝繁叶茂的参天大树一定硕果累累,焕发更强的生命力。在接下来传承、创新的路上,为全球教育做出更大贡献。

王梅凤 / Heng Boey Hong
Mdm Heng Boey Hong has a BA in Chinese and Economics, and an MA in Chinese Studies from the National University of Singapore. An alumna of Nanyang Girls High School, she was appointed as the School抯 Principal at the end of 2009. She is also currently the Chairman of Singapore Chinese Education Association, Committee Member of the Executive Board of the Academy of Principals (Singapore), and member in the Advisory Committee on Chinese Programmes (ACCESS). In 2012, she received the Public Service Award from President Tony Tan for her passion and devotion in community work. 王梅凤毕业于新加坡国立大学,主修中文和经济。1989年考获中文系荣誉学士学位后,进入国立教育学院,于1990年考获教育专业文凭。1990年任教于裕廊高中(Jurong Institute, JI),1992年到国大深造,1996年考获中文硕士学位。1999年出任南洋小学副校长,2002年12月接任校长职位。2009年底,她以校友的身份,出任南洋女子中学校的校长。目前是新加坡华文教育学会主席、西北社区发展理事会理事、新加坡校长学院理事、新加坡华文节目咨询委员会委员。2012年,以热心社区工作,获陈庆炎总统颁发公共服务奖章。

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