With its robust curriculum, centralized approach, and roster of highly qualified teachers, Singapore’s education system is undoubtedly one of the best and most organized in the world. And it’s not just state schools that adhere to this culture of excellence.
High standards in education is par for the course invirtually all of the country’s educational institutions, whether they are state schools, private schools, orinternational schools. This is why it is not surprising that Singapore-based students consistently rank high in all international competitiveness assessments.
Take the recent Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), for example. The results show that 15-year-old students in the city-state scored higher than the OECD average in reading, mathematics, and science. They also outclass their peers from most countries in global competence, proving time and time again the quality of education they receive.
While these high schoolers shine academically on the world stage, it doesn’t mean that their school life is always smooth sailing. Like any teenager would, they also face various problems and may need the assistance of teachers to resolve them. Whether you teach in a local educational institution or an
international high school in Singapore, there are plenty of things you can do to help your students address their struggles. This short guide will discuss four of the most common issues affecting high schoolers and what you can do to lend a hand.
Singapore’s schools may be effective in producing excellent results, but the pressure and competition students consistently face sometimes take a toll on their psychological well-being. According to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), an increasing number of teenage students from top schools are seeking help from their clinics due to school-related stress. Students’ innate desire to perform well academically, their impulse to compare their social lives with those of others, and high parental expectations are just some of the things that might be driving your own students to feel overly stressed about their studies.
Although some degree of academic stress is natural, excessive levels can lead to negative physical, psychological, and social consequences. These include burnout, anxiety, and depression. To help high schoolers cope with school-related stress, strive to build positive teacher-student relationships with them. Spend time getting to know your students, and be that adult they can trust and turn to whenever they have personal and academic concerns.
You may also want to incorporate lessons on grit, resiliency, and self-care in your classes to help them cope with stressful situations. And if you notice students showing signs of excessive academic stress, connect them with the school counselor and other mental health care professionals immediately.
FEAR OF FAILURE
Aside from the excellent academic performance of Singapore-based students, the recent PISA results also revealed a pressing concern experienced by most students—fear of failure. Apparently, three in four high schoolers are afraid of not excelling in the various aspects of their school life and are worried about what others think of them when they encounter failures.
While a moderate amount of fear can help students strive harder, excessive fear of failing can hinder learning, creativity, and growth. After all, those who want to avoid setbacks will probably stay away from challenging opportunities and situations that are necessary for gaining knowledge and developing their abilities.
As a teacher, you know full well the value of trying new things and learning from past mistakes. Thus, you may want to help your students who are afraid of failing and teach them to value the process—or the journey of learning—more than the outcome. Provide a safe space for students to learn and give them opportunities to try different things outside their comfort zone. You can also include lessons on world renowned individuals who went through failures and adversities before succeeding in life. These may help enlighten students, inspire them, and build their confidence for trying new things.
While it normal to feel worried about examinations,examinations, the level of test anxiety experienced by many Singaporean high schoolers is concerning. Perhaps this problem largely stems from the nation’s hyper- competitive culture, coupled with intense pressure from parents. From their parents, students may inherit worries about getting high marks in exams, earning high grades, getting into prestigious universities, and succeeding in their adult life.
To help your students manage test anxiety, teach them effective study habits. You can also help them prepare for tests by going through content that’s most likely going to appear in the exams and also by designing mock tests for them to answer. When students are well prepared, they are less anxious and able to perform better in their tests.
Despite the Ministry of Education’s serious stand and firm policies againts all forms of bullying in schools, bullying remains a concern among many high schoolers. Per the 2018 PISA study, 26 percent of 15-year old Singaporean students admitted to being bullied at least a few times a month. This report is alarming, given the grave impact of bullying on the victims’ health and overall well-being.
Unfortunately, even teachers like you may find it challenging to detect bullying incidents as they often happen in secret. Perhaps your best defense is to teach your students lessons on kindness and empathy and build an environment that does not tolerate bullying. Helping students connect with others on a deeper level, practicing conflict resolution, and teaching students to speak up when they witness bullying behavior can do a lot to prevent or reduce bullying incidents.
High school can be a demanding and overwhelming time for students, especially when they live in a society like Singapore that values high grades and superior academic performance. As such, your role as a teacher extends beyond the content of your lesson plan. You should also be ready to support and assist students experiencing issues at school so they can reach their academic goals, make friends, and grow up to become well-adjusted adults.