New Year; New Experiences; New Learning. This is the message I shared with all my students and staff at the start of the year. I want them to start the year with looking forward to the new experiences and the rich learning which we have planned for them. I want to encourage them to try new ideas and approach their learning and work differently. I want to excite them into embracing the days and months ahead as new adventures.
Learning is an adventure. In every adventure, there are obstacles along the way which one must learn to work round. Sometimes, one fails and has to simply try again. Sometimes, one succeeds and gets to feel the joy of success. Whichever is the outcome, one learns along the way and gains some new and useful experiences. This is what Northland seeks to provide – a 6-year course of exciting adventures that targets at creating a joy in learning; enabling learning to take place with understanding; promoting a spirit for critical and inventive thinking, and cultivating sound moral and social values.
adventure Northland is embarking on this year is our new signature programme –
Applied Learning Programme (ALP). It
aims to inculcate in our students a set of intellectual dispositions that will
promote the spirit of lifelong learning.
At the same time, we want our students to develop a mind of their own as
they grow and learn in Northland. To
these ends, Northland has designed a comprehensive and engaging thinking
programme that spans across the 6 years of a Northlander’s journey with
us. The younger students (P1 & P2)
will be exposed to International Chess where they will learn to explore
possibilities and think strategically.
Starting this year, the P3 students will progressively learn a host of
specific thinking skills to enable them to think critically, analytically,
reflectively and creatively. Infused
seamlessly in the curriculum of the disciplines, these skills will be
explicitly taught so that our Northlanders can talk about their thinking
processes meaningfully to help them learn.
To inject even more fun into the learning, the programme will also introduce
students to Scratch, a programming language for children. This will provide even more grounds for our
students to apply the thinking skills that they learn and see their creative
ideas come to live. With such a
comprehensive thinking programme in place, we believe our Northlanders will
learn to be a critical and inventive thinker.
In my first letter to parents this year, I spoke about building confidence in communication for Northlanders as part of our ongoing effort to equip them with 21st Century Competencies. We believe in the importance of speaking confidently. At the same time, we also want Northlanders to take greater ownership of their learning. What better way is there than to encourage them to speak up for themselves to the teacher-in-charge to address their own concerns? As parents, by consciously taking a step back, we can give children the much-needed room to learn how to express themselves intelligibly and how to carry out a dialogue with an expressed purpose. With some guidance at home, we must trust that our Northlanders, however young, are capable of representing themselves. After all, it is only with constant practice that they can learn to acquire the art of communication.
While Northland goes to great lengths to set up a conducive environment for our students to learn joyously and successfully, we understand that their adventurous learning journey in the school can have its ups and downs. We urge all Northlanders to steel themselves in the face of failures, and be guided by the values they learn in Northland.
I like to share a quote from one of my teachers to his student recently:
“The journey ahead may not always be smooth-sailing but remember that failures are only temporary. With a permanent will, you will succeed! Along your journey, there may be others who doubt your ability and challenge your beliefs. You will be upset but do not let your emotions dictate your actions. Let your values guide you in your decisions. Gather the strength and confidence to believe in who you are and not what others think you are.”
With the continual support of Northland parents, and the dedication of all the staff, we believe that our Northlanders will take all challenges in stride and face all the learning adventures that we have laid out for them with zest and optimism.