Think of the time when you last saw or interacted with a four-year-old child. Didn’t you marvel at his boundless energy, or his insatiable appetite to learn about anything and everything under the sun with his endless strings of ‘whys’? Did you secretly envy the sparkle in his eyes that seem to communicate his awe and wonder of the universe? Leave this child in a room filled with books, toys and materials to tinker with. He is likely to keep himself meaningfully engaged for an hour or more, just exploring and creating things on his own.
As parents and educators, we wish that this earnest enthusiasm for unstructured play can spill over to learning when our children enter formal schooling. In Mayflower Primary School, we have been committed to creating engaging learning environments and a strong curriculum to sustain the interest of our students and help them learn better. In the last 2 years, we also recognised that besides the provision of the environment, curriculum and programmes, there is also a need to inculcate positive work habits and attitudes in our students and equip them with desirable learning dispositions to enable them to take charge of their learning. Learning is a lifelong journey and students should have the innate desire to own their learning beyond the encouragement of the external factors such as strong family support for education, robust school curriculum and skilful educators. The external factors are important, but coupled with the intrinsic motivation of the learner, education becomes more meaningful and interesting for the learners.
With this goal in mind, we started on a series of school based conversations and focused group discussions (FGDs) with our teachers, students and parents to find out about our collective hopes and aspirations we have for our Mayflower Primary School students. What would distinguish the MFPS student from others? What would keep MFPS students in good stead to embrace the future? We thought that we will be gathering responses about positive learner traits we want our students to have. However, from the multiple conversations, it was evident that we all want our students to be more than just good learners at school. We also want them to be active contributors of the community and society who will lead and serve others. We were so excited at this discovery, especially when the parent groups unanimously echoed this loud and clear across the different FGDs we conducted.
With inputs from the 3 stakeholder groups, we have put together the Traits of MFPS Students which delineate the distinctive attributes of our students who complete 6 years of education at MFPS. The Traits support our vision of our students who are “Exemplary Citizens of Tomorrow”. They help us and our students understand what it means to live up to the vision of the school.
These traits are summarised into 2 main domains of the Empowered Learners and Empathetic Leaders.
The MFPS student will have both the head and the heart to learn, lead and serve.
We have decided to use the metaphor of a superhero to help our students better understand the Traits of MFPS Students. The superhero depicts someone who has the power to own his learning as well as a big heart to care for others.
Being an empowered learner, he is a strong and confident student who knows that he can take charge of his learning. We will capitalise on the primary school years to build on children’s inherent desire to discover about themselves and the world around them. As these young ones find out about their strengths, interests and talents, and how these are related to their schooling experiences, they will unearth compelling reasons and purposes to love school and learning. We will also put in place structures such as Formative Assessment to help students monitor their own learning progress and make stepwise improvements. When this happens, adults may find that there will be less nagging, less prodding taking place in school and at home. Instead, we will have self-motivated and empowered learners who enjoy learning and take challenges in their stride.
As our students spend time and energy to become self-directed and strong learners, we also want them not to forget to reach out and serve others, as guided by our school motto, “Service Before Self”. As an empathetic leader, he will care for others and seek to positively influence and impact others around him. This is important for our younger generation who are very blessed with comfortable lifestyles and generally have no lack for material gains. They need to be reminded to be thankful, grateful and considerate to others, so that they do not take what they have for granted and at the same time build a more compassionate community.
So, my dear Students, to become Empowered Learners and Empathetic Leaders, start by having a teachable spirit and an attitude of gratitude. Participate fully in all school activities. Allow your teachers and parents to mentor and correct you when necessary. Let the school values guide you as you encounter challenges along the way. We will not give up on you because we believe that every one of you can learn and grow.
Dear Parents, the school seeks your partnership to call forth the Empowered Learner and Empathetic Leader in each child. Now we have a common language to use at home and in school to help our children take greater responsibility as a learner and be kinder towards others as a leader. When they fall short of the expectations, we will patiently but firmly guide them. Let’s do it together, for our children.
Yours in Service,
Mrs Lim-Chua Siow Ling