Schools look at using CCAs to teach values and life lessons

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Schools look at using CCAs to teach values and life lessons

Postby ManU123 » Mon Nov 07, 2011 10:05 pm

Schools look at using CCAs to teach values and life lessons
Topic likely to be explored at two-day conference

Published on Nov 7, 2011

Principals and teachers are brainstorming on how co-curricular activities (CCAs) can be further harnessed to develop character, as they craft plans for the next work year.

Ideas range from encouraging greater participation in intra-school meets, to creating more opportunities for students to pursue sports recreationally.

School-wide competitions - open to all except those already in school teams - are one avenue Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) is exploring. Catholic High School is looking at providing students with better resources to help more of them attain a higher sporting standard.

The issue of CCAs and how they can help in a child's development is expected to be among the discussion topics at the first Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) conference, which starts on Tuesday.

Activities outside the classroom are seen as integral to the Ministry of Education's (MOE) renewed emphasis on building character and inculcating moral values like respect and responsibility in students.

The two-day conference at the Nanyang Technological University comes on the back of the MOE's setting up of a CCE branch recently, which brings together the units in charge of moral education, national education and CCAs.

But while the emphasis may be on character and values education, parents are also keen to see their children involved in sports while at school, even if they are not good enough to wear school colours.

Said Victoria School principal Low Eng Teong: 'We know this (CCAs) is something we need to look at urgently.

'It is not just about re-planning programmes, but also changing mindsets of what CCAs, especially sports, aim to deliver. One outcome we want is more participation.'

His ACS(I) counterpart Winston Hodge noted that the intensity of competitive sports makes it a 'crucible' for students to learn important life lessons such as fairness and perseverance.

But he added: 'We shouldn't just be focused on competition teams, but broaden participation to as many as will benefit from it.'

Enhancing the school house system to involve more students is one possibility. Mr Chan Chee Wei, the school's director for health, physical education and recreation, said: 'Even if you are an armchair critic, we still have opportunities for you to get involved - perhaps as team managers or umpires.'

Educators and experts agree that CCAs help provide a well-rounded education, especially as a classroom setting may not be the most ideal way to transmit values to youngsters who are generally more questioning than their elders.

Assistant Professor Jasmine Sim from the National Institute of Education, who has done research on Singapore's civics and moral education syllabus over the years, said: 'Compared with previous generations, students are now more articulate and open to discussion.

'It is therefore important to teach character building not just through a didactic approach, but also to have more platforms for dialogues with students, opportunities to work together with them, as well as through the informal curriculum such as CCAs.'

Consultant psychiatrist Brian Yeo noted that CCAs are a useful tool for building self-esteem and leadership potential, and offer achievement goals for students who are less academically inclined.

But he sounded a note of caution, calling for a balance in how CCAs are used in the new emphasis on a values-driven education: 'You have to be careful about how you enforce it.

'It is useful as long as it doesn't increase the stress on students.'

Parents such as Madam Lee Wei Yin are hailing the impending changes.

Madam Lee, a mother of three, had the freedom to try out and train in several track-and-field events back when she was in school. She laments that her children, aged between 15 and 18, do not have similar opportunities.

'You may not end up being very good in the sport, but at least you experience it and understand the rules,' said the 50-year-old housewife.

In recent years, some schools, especially those with strong sporting traditions, have been criticised for not allowing students not good enough for the school team to join a sport recreationally.

Madam Lim Siew Tin's 11-year-old son was so discouraged by such policies that he decided to skip sports selection trials at his school in the east altogether, and joined the choir.

The 44-year-old part-time tutor said: 'He might not be good at sports, but boys being boys, he enjoys physical exercise. He is so passionate, he sometimes stays back after school to watch the football or hockey players train.

'My second son will start attending Primary 1 in the same school next year, so the possible changes to CCAs are timely.'

The Straits Times

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