Source: Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, Vol. 14, No. 4, August 2008, 369–384
In 1997, Singapore's Ministry of Education (MOE) committed itself to an ambitious program of pedagogical reform in Singaporean schools in anticipation of the kind of institutional challenges - particularly those in increasingly globalized labor markets - that young Singaporeans were likely to face in the coming decades. The Ministry has been strongly committed to the development of an education system that (1) prepares young people for the worksites of the knowledge economy, (2) promotes innovation and creativity rather than simply learning and memorization, (3) recognizes and rewards a plurality of talents rather than a singularity of merit (namely, performance on high-stakes assessment), (4) offers a broader diversity of choices and pathways for students in and through schooling, and (5) generally prepares young people to successfully negotiate the more complex institutional demands of a rapidly globalizing and ‘postmodern’ world, and to do so without a loss of civic attachment or a clear normative framework.
Since then, the Ministry has designed and implemented a series of initiatives that, the authors suggest, will go a considerable distance to achieve its objectives. These initiatives focus on substantial changes in the system of 'instructional governance' in Singapore over the past decade, and efforts to change the pattern of classroom pedagogy. But while these represent a good start, the authors argue that these initiatives do not go quite far enough to close the gap between policy and practice. Moreover, improvement of classroom pedagogy in the long run will depend on the improvement of initial teacher education. However given what is known about the circumstances that optimize professional learning in both pre-service and in-service programs, the improvement of teacher education will depend substantially on the prior improvement of classroom pedagogy. The authors have suggested that Singapore – unlike the US for example – is well positioned to implement a model of knowledge management and sustainable innovation that is neither too tight nor too loose and that, with a strong commitment to the codification, verification, operationalization, and dissemination of expert teacher knowledge, can put in place organizational arrangements that will optimize professional learning in both initial teacher education and in-service programs.