Between February 17 and 25, 2018, Perry den Brok was visiting professor to the National Institute of Education (NIE) in Singapore. NIE is the only teacher education institute in Singapore and is a semi-independent unit of Nanyang Technological University, an engineering university of about 30.000 students. NIE trains over 1000 teachers per year, from primary to higher education, and in all school subjects. Perry was invited to provide a lecture on his research on classroom management and teacher-student interpersonal relationships, and to teach classes on learning environments research, quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, teacher professional development and differences between beginning and expert teachers. He also provided feedback to research plans of PhD students, discussed with students from the research school strategies on getting published (from his role as editor of the Learning Environments Research journal, Springer), and discussed plans for further collaboration in research between NIE and ELS (WUR).
Some interesting observations from this work visit: NIE and Nanyang Technological University invest heavily in modern learning spaces and flexible classrooms, education is largely blended and classes are often conducted with parts of the students via digital learning environments and parts of the students face-2-face. They seem ahead to most Dutch universities, in this respect, was my impression. Also, there is much attention in research and teacher education on all kinds of forms of ICT in the classroom, and on new developments in ICT that might be used for university education. Another interesting observation: student teachers follow a 16 month programme, and are already government employees during this time. If they don’t graduate, they have to pay back their salary as loan. There are much career opportunities for teachers, including higher payment with higher levels. Examples are qualifications or jobs such as junior teachers, expert teachers, teacher-researcher, teacher-leader, specialized teacher, etc. Much of the professional development and teaching at NIE occurs during the evening hours (6-9 pm), as most graduates also have jobs while they are doing programs at the university. Finally, there is much respect for the teacher, and Singapore has a hard working and performance based ethos; as a result, teachers perhaps have a less difficult position as they have here in the Netherlands. On the other hand, there is much stress, burnout and other work-related issues in Singapore, as a by-product of this ethos, and they are searching for ways to counter this.
All in all: a short, but interesting work visit. Undoubtedly: to be continued!