Mark has a BA in Sociology and Labour Studies from York University, a PGCE from Sunderland University, and an MEd in Curriculum Studies and Teacher Development from the University of Toronto. He has garnered 15 years of teaching and administrative experience in China, South Korea and Thailand.
In his last stint before moving to OWIS Suntec, he was the Head of Primary and Early Years at an international school in Bangkok.
Mark believes that the way forward in education is to ensure that the learning approach is student-centred, engaging and experiential, including the use of technology. He likes to create a learning environment where all students can flourish and, thereby, attain their full potential.
It is project time in a primary classroom and students look expectantly at the teacher. But this isn’t a school that believes in the traditional education approach of handing students the same assignment and seeing how they fare.
Instead, the teacher offers a theme with a broad scope to the students and asks them to interpret it individually or in small groups, and present the result of their thought process back to the class after two weeks. As a result, one student presents a 3-D model, another has written a skit to highlight the theme, and yet another pair created a video with a catchy audio track on the topic.
Welcome to an inquiry-based classroom in a primary school that believes in child-led learning.
Child-led learning refers to an educational approach in which children are given opportunities for autonomy and to take ownership of their learning. In the primary school context, this translates into encouraging children to have a voice and choice in what and how they learn.
For the success of this approach in schools, three elements are mostly required:
Child-led learning and inquiry-based learning have a close-knit relationship; after all, it would be difficult to nurture the spirit of inquisitiveness with rigid questions and learning processes set by the teacher and learning outcomes that are cast in stone.
Child-led learning is also associated with the concept of “student agency”. The curriculum for primary grades at OWIS Suntec is based on the IB PYP, and “student agency” is explained in the IB PYP Learner Profile. It says that children have their own intrinsic identities and capabilities, and when these are recognised in the learning process, it builds confidence and enables them to co-create their learning needs. These opportunities for students to exercise agency over their learning allows them to become partners in the learning process with their teachers as facilitators.
For example, at OWIS Nanyang, child-led learning or student agency took the form of primary students taking up initiatives of their choice to bring about change. They worked together in groups to discuss global issues and decided which problem they would like to help solve. As a result, different groups chose a beach clean-up, a bag recycling initiative and setting up a lemonade stand with the proceeds going to charity.
Child-led learning is sometimes differentiated from child-centered learning, which encompasses the concept of multiple intelligences and personalised learning. While both differ in their implementation ever so slightly, the student is at the heart of both approaches and there is no reason why we cannot draw on the best practices of both to arrive at a solution that is even more effective.
Here are some of the many advantages of the child-led learning approach for young students between the ages of 6-12:
At OWIS Suntec, the new campus by One World International School in the heart of Singapore, child-initiated learning will be an integral part of the balanced curriculum that we will offer. We are designing this learning aspect from the following perspectives:
At OWIS Suntec, students will enjoy the benefits of child-led learning in purpose-built zones. The balanced inquiry-based curriculum, which is modelled on the IB PYP, will encourage them to explore themes from the perspectives that interest them. If you are interested to learn more about this new private primary school in central Singapore, please save your spot at the virtual open house.
(Campus opening subject to CPE approval.)