prior to operationalise

prior to operationalising some (new) pedagogy, teaching approach, methods, or (fill in the blank), something needs to be addressed. we just so happen to talk abt this over lunch yesterday in our 3-men gathering. and a while ago, this post was surfaced via su fen‘s fb feed “How to Design a Classroom Built on Inquiry, Openness and Trust“. 无巧不成书也。

as the word “How to” in the title suggests, the article primarily addresses the Operational aspects of things. but the experience from my recent work, coupled with past experiences, tells me that something probably needs to be addressed prior to operations — the Psychological aspect. to be specific, the Beliefs (of teachers; note: not students, yet). questions to be addressed would include:

what are your beliefs about Learning? what are your assumptions about how your students learn? what beliefs of learning are the target/new pedagogy/approach/method founded on? how does these match/clash with your current beliefs/assumptions? going a step further, how many or which of these are informed or guided by Learning Sciences?

w/o addressing Psychology/Beliefs, teachers can probably still psuedo-operationalise anything. and the end results would likely be akin to SDL = student completes assigned homework independently; CoL = working in groups. and when the boss doesn’t ‘demand’ it anymore, would the practice still stays, or we go back to square one? as a side note, we discussed abt the practice of ‘lesson study’ in school during lunch yesterday.

while belief(s) cannot be changed overnight, it needs to be addressed right at the beginning, and revisited very often. why? so that it becomes something teachers include in their review/reflection of their practice/operations. in doing so, we’ll likely see more successful shifts and hear more success stories. this is #myHypothesis w/o digging into the literature yet 😛

gears photoPhoto by el_rogos

a quick quote related to teachers’ PD

“(contrary to commonly held notions) change in teachers’ attitudes and beliefs is primarily a result, rather than a cause, of change in the learning outcomes of students. In the absence of evidence of positive change in students’ learning, it suggests that significant change in the attitudes and beliefs of teachers is unlikely.” (Guskey, 2002, p.386)

— chanced upon via tandfonline

theory is not important, just tell me what to do



若答案是“有”、“的确是这样”(你不需要告诉我,自己偷偷告诉自己就好),恭喜你!你、我,都是被荼毒的一群。这毒药不是鹤顶红,也非七步追魂散,是一种慢性毒药所致(cf. 烟霾)。这“毒药”的出处大多是在我们所经历的许多许多培训课上,心地好的讲师一次次地在我们不自知的情况下所下的药。我们心存感激,讲师真是为我们着想,真周到。


我的重点是:理论非常重要,甚至比实践方法、怎么做更更更重要。 此话怎讲?!?

先举两个典型例子吧。试问:1. 什么是自主学习(SDL, self-directed learning)? 2. 什么是协作学习 (CoL, collaborative learning)?


这里我不会将SDL、CoL展开来谈,要谈请到TRAISI报名 12470课。我只想说,如果SDL、CoL那么简单,还需要某某教授来提,那么这教授也太混了吧!所以,上述两个“定义”,显然是有问题和不足之处的。但身为一名教师,我们有意识到吗?或许有,或许没有,就看我们中毒的程度吧。

言归正传,为什么理论非常重要?这里我就用再熟悉不过的词语——“学习” learning来谈吧。你认为什么是学习?比方说在课堂上:

1. 我尽量多讲,让学生多听、多抄。对学生而言,这就是学习。
2. 我几乎每三节课中就有两节是小组活动。对学生而言,这就是学习。


话说“理论”。什么是理论?中毒深的或许会说“一大堆大道理。长篇大论,和实际教学距离很远。” 一套完整的教学理论经常有两大部分:一、其教育哲学、教育理念部分;二、实施的原则部分。有时可能会有三、实际操作步骤。如果说理论不重要,一般是指一和二不重要,直接锁定三。但是我们往往忽略了,三其实是建立在一、二之上的。没有了解一、二,就来做三,能行吗?当然能行,上述的SDL、CoL就是典型的“能行”例子。



至于“弄明白”的重要性,我们经常说要培养终身学习的学生,终身学习不就是终身“弄明白”那么一回事吗?学生要lifelong learning, 教师亦然。不去“弄明白”能行吗?如何弄明白,就是上述一、二、三这三码事,缺一不可。


theory photoPhoto credit: by jana christy

quick post-12470 recap

yesterday was the 3rd and last f2f session for this year’s only run of Clinic 12470. of course, we know one reason behind that is the “17 hours” course time. shorten it to attract pple we gonna try, but 经常吃药的人都知道——苦口良药;if u need to take 2 panadol but took only 1 becos a pill is so hard to swallow, are u going to get well? panadol perhaps, other drugs perhaps not.

anyway, yesterday the following 有缘人 came, 燕玲、常征、兴汉 being course participants; 保勝 who came, chose to audit, but after tea-break came in to join the conversation. and we have 雁妮 and 温韫 auditing the session too. i wonder what are the observers’ thought on the session yesterday. 美琪 was called up to be oral examiner last minute so couldn’t join us; but we have voice-recorded the dialogues for her review (:

comparing the way i go about facilitating the last f2f sessions (this is the 5th time), yesterday’s session was so far the most 淡定。i think i have reached a new level of awareness – 课题在有限的时间是聊不完的。与其求多而点到为止(虽然还是很多点到为止),倒不如更深究一两点(虽然还是有限的深入)。 and so, we basically only focused on the topic of Jigsaw method just before tea at 1550hr. one whole hour deliberating the method and its considerations. how inefficient!!! yes perhaps so, if one were to treat learning in production mode; this type of production line seriously tan-bo-jia (赚没吃)。but there again, education/learning is not a profit/loss business to me. in learning, there’s only gain albeit at slow pace. 只有好和更好 (:

just wanted to take a personal note that it take time to “let go” of the efficiency mode towards teaching — fill up the vessels in participants with as much contents in as little time as possible. the current state of “letting go” took me 2 yrs to reach. 今天讲不完或没聊到,来日方长嘛。迟早会有机会碰到遇到聊起的。

a key enabler of this mindset is perhaps the effect of the course design — the clinic-studio pair. thanks Victor once again for co-creating this design. i have so far treated clinic’s primary purpose as a culture-building-setting-altering time. i take a slow 1.5 mths to get participants to reflect on learning – how they are learning; and how they are getting students to learn. and a safe environment to discuss, think, voice and exchange opinions. a culture of “no right or wrong”. the topic and objectives on paper are always covered during this time, but it’s a secondary concern from my facilitator’s perspective.

the last thing that i want to note down is the Course Feedback form that is in a way not designed with knowledge creation in mind, but more from the perspective of vessel-filling.

for e.g., “I can apply the ideas/knowledge/skills learnt from the course.”

– “CAN APPLY” oversimplifies teaching as a complex entity. this is as if describing downloading an app on an iPad, install, tap and it will execute. are teachers iPads or robots that can be flashed firmware, and begin production straight away? not to mention our course is not designed to “hand out” knowledge (if it can be handed out), nor to prepare knowledge to fill the vessels that come (if knowledge can be poured to fill). it’s about co-creation of knowledge. and we are talking abt 21st century competencies, advancing 21st century teaching and learning. it’s time to revisit the assumption of mass-production mode of learning in this qn.

another e.g., “The presentation was clear.”

– a knowledge creation-backed question should be “the FACILITATION was effective.” Presentation suggests a vessel-filling, sit-copy-receive-and-learn metaphor. it’s again the mass-production assumption of learning behind this qn.

enough said for now. until next time (:

KBSI 2016 paper

today is the first day of the Knowledge Building Summer Institute (KBSI 2016). had the chance to have some conversation with the KB community as we presented our paper “Teachers’ understanding of knowledge creation: A phenomenography of Singapore Chinese Language teachers“. the paper can be found in the local mirror:


won’t be able to make it for tmr as i’ll be facilitating the 2nd f2f session of Clinic 12470. day 3 morning, should be joining the folks at a school visit to teck whye sec.