“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.”    John D. Rockefeller

Everybody looks to success to learn how to replicate what the “winners” do…

What happens when the success stories you are emulating suddenly say,  “We’ve been winning the wrong race” and change?

Singapore has been among the world’s top performers in the PISA standardised science, mathematics and reading tests since 2006. In the past three years, it has held the top spot.  

Australian educators have been lambasted in the media for our falling standards compared to the “Asian Education Tigers” like Singapore. We are seen as not rigorous enough, wasting time and energy with systems that see “Australia falling behind the world.”

We should be more like Singapore they say. Well…

Singapore’s PISA success has been based on  standardised test drilling and a culture of compliance. So, what happens when Singapore says they need to change their successful educational structure because it will not serve its students well in the future?

“We’re building compliant students just as the jobs that value compliance are beginning to disappear”. Singapore Minister for Education, Ng Chee Meng,

Image from ‘The Independent’, Singapore.

So, what happens when the countries you are supposed to copy find out that despite ranking among the top in the world, they are concerned that the results do not reflect “successful education”?

What happens when you use instruments like NAPLAN as educational snapshots to inform where you can (and should) do better, rather than as a way to rank (and shame?) schools?

What happens when you realise that universities will ignore a Higher School Certificate certification that is based on NAPLAN compliance (“Students in New South Wales will have to meet minimum standards of literacy and numeracy if they are to achieve a Higher School Certificate (HSC) from 2020.”) and lets students into courses anyway?

Good questions. Welcome to the ever evolving world in which education finds itself!

I suppose the best thing is what the Singapore education system is doing :  Redesigning Pedagogy based on data on student wellbeing and the innovation in the economy.

Like Singapore, SCAS will constantly review our educational structures and processes to ensure that our students are given an education that not only engages them but gives them the chance of real competitive advantage in the our current and future world.

Image from CSIRO Australia

For a start, we know engaged students are more likely to be great learners. Fostering engagement in learning has a number of positive outcomes besides better academic results. Research shows that engagement in learning builds emotional and cognitive resilience, encourages creativity, fosters positive responses to feedback and reduces anxiety. So we will be looking at how what we teach and how we teach and assess will improve a student’s sense of engagement.

At the moment SCAS is doing very well academically, but we believe that to stay “ahead of the pack” we need to continue to adapt and improve.  As James Kerr says in his book, Legacy, “When you’re on top of your game, change your game.”