Project Educating Young Minds (1/100)

Back dated entry from Early Feb 2013

Hello all! Welcome to my Inaugural entry on Project Educating Young Minds!

My name is Charlene!

I have taught in a formal classroom for 3.5 years in Singapore* and I have been a private tutor for the last 11 years. I’ve also spent 6 glorious months caring for a newborn which has greatly inspired me to explore a career in Early Childhood Education. He’s my precious little nephew Isaiah and he motivates me to read books related to early childhood.

IMG_0048 IMG_0048 Screenshot from 2013-01-11 19_50_49 Screenshot from 2013-01-11 19_47_12

I  also love being an educator. (Different from being a teacher, more about that next time!)

I think education is vital to any person and I’m grateful for the opportunities that education has brought in my life. I’ve had some wonderful and inspiring teachers who have shaped and encouraged my growth and it’s my hope to be inspirational like them!

I’m currently residing in NYC. I moved to the city after being engaged (and soon to be married legally!) to my American boy. He’s a software architect by training and is painfully smart and introverted.

I intend to go into graduate school (still deciding among a few in NYC) majoring in Early childhood education in Fall 2013/Summer 2014.

I have an honors degree from the National University of Singapore** and a post graduate diploma in Education from the National Institute of Education in Singapore.

In this entry, besides giving a brief introduction of my background, I would also like to share with you something I read in the NYPL  today. It’s a book by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, titled, How to talk so your kids can learn – At home and in school.

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One of the most important things that sunk into my head today was this quote:

“How parents and teachers talk tells a child how they feel about him. Their statements affect his self esteem and self worth. To a large extent, their language determines his destiny!”

I think it strikes home to me because I feel as a teacher, there is so much I can do. A successful education needs 3 partners: the teacher, the child and most importantly the parent.  If you think about it, the parent should be the primary care-giver who spends the most amount of time with the child. (In a lot of cases it’s not like that anymore, sadly.) So when you send your child to be educated, it’s very important that both sets of adults must sing the same tune and be a TEAM!

I’ve met many parents who have (in sheer desperation) come to me and said, “You are the teacher, tell me what to do.” While I totally empathize with the parent, I also feel that as the child’s parent, it is partly your responsibility that you have hit such a brick wall. As a teacher, I long very much to help you, but there is a limited set of things I can do. I would love to be a superhero and save all the wayward children, but unfortunately the parent card trumps it all.

Anyways, speaking of teams, I think its crucial that both parties (the parent and the teacher) create an environment of positivity for the child. The age group that I’m interested in researching is between 0-6, which is the age when children absorb everything around them like sponges.

In that aspect, I’m very interested in American style parenting and teaching, where praises are generously lavished on children.

Comparatively, Asian parenting is much more critical and almost shy of praise. I’m more inclined towards the former, primarily because I was schooled in the latter and didn’t enjoy it all that much. 😛

Anyways, I find this very  interesting because Singapore is ranked 5th in the global education rankings while the USA is ranked 17th. (click here for rankings) ***

So I wonder, is too much praise detrimental for children? The truth is probably more nuanced that this simple comparison and a mixture of many factors probably affected the rankings above.

Nonetheless, I still feel that it’s important to create a positive environment for the child, especially at a young age, because it empowers them and increases their confidence, which is vital in their development in later years. Little children, with all their innocence, have not been tainted with disappointments, hopelessness and failure.  Using the correct language with them will greatly inspire them to go beyond their pre-existing capabilities.

* Pearson report of 2012, ranks Singapore as the top 5 in education (http://thelearningcurve.pearson.com/the-report)
 
** NUS ranks as the top 25 universities in the world (http://newshub.nus.edu.sg/headlines/1012/rankings_04Oct12.php)
 
*** The study, carried out by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), combines international test results and data such as literacy rates and graduation rates between 2006 and 2010.A wide range of education inputs, both quantitative data — such as spending on pupils and class size — as well as qualitative data — such as level of school choice — were examined along with numerous potential outcomes ranging from development of cognitive skills to GDP growth. 

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