Tai Lee Kian
Master of Education

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I completed the Master of Education (MEd) programme offered by the University of Adelaide (UoA) through  Ngee Ann-Adelaide (NAA) in June 2014. Since I knew I would continue to establish my career in the education sector, I thought the programme would best help me upgrade my skillset and knowledge that would be relevant and vital to boost my contribution towards the teaching profession.

Prior to my enrolment into the programme, I had researched in great depth on the plethora of such programmes available in the market place and found NAA‘s to best meet my needs for a highly reputable, world-class tertiary education institution to further my studies in.

NAA, a joint venture partnership between Ngee Ann Kongsi (NAK) and the University of Adelaide UoA) which are two of the most respected institutions in the Asia Pacific region, was established in 1998 to provide locals a chance to undertake high quality Australian degree programmes offered by the prestigious and reputed University of Adelaide, without needing to leave the country or incur high expenses just to receive such a tertiary education.

UoA is consistently ranked in the top 1% of universities worldwide and is also part of the Group of Eight, a coalition of Australia’s leading research universities. Students at NAA are taught by experienced academics, consultants and professional educators who are specially flown into Singapore from the University each time there are classes. Students undergo the same exact curriculum, receive the same sets of study materials and sit for the same examinations as those over at the University in Adelaide.

NAK, a not-for-profit organisation, is actively involved in education, amongst other activities. NAK is  synonymous with developing and encouraging high quality education from primary to tertiary levels through its generous revenue contributions to these schools, including Nanyang Polytechnic where I am currently a lecturer in the School of Chemical and Life Sciences.

The MEd programme is designed for teachers, trainers, educational consultants and any domestic or international student wishing to study Education at a postgraduate level. Though students are required to complete 16 courses over a period of two years, applicants who have an undergraduate degree in education or who have significant teaching experience are eligible for advanced standing, assessed on a case-by-case basis.

What’s also interesting about the programme is that students can pick from a diverse range of electives/specialisations which include leadership, research methodology, curriculum planning which may relate to what they teach, to enhance their overall learning experience.

I always had an interest to pursue a career in education. I was inspired by a lecturer when I was a polytechnic student myself. The lecturer conducted the lessons in an interesting and easy to follow manner. Since then, I had always imagined myself being a lecturer and started looking for opportunities for a career in education.

I have been working in NYP for 8 years. I was not in the education sector before this. I was a research assistant in National University of Singapore (NUS) and at the same time, I was also reading the Master of Science degree programme on a part time basis. Throughout the years working in NUS, I was supervising the students from NUS and polytechnics in their final year projects.

My organisation always encourages us to attend courses that would help us in our personal and professional growth. There are several seminars, symposiums, etc where invited speakers  conduct talks or workshops for the staff. The organisation also encourages and sponsors staff for personal capability development such as their further studies or through industrial attachments.

In 2011, when I was involved in developing a new course together with my course manager. It was the biggest challenge I have ever faced. We were doing this on top of our scheduled classes and other daily tasks. We started everything from scratch. It was really challenging to come out with a course structure and syllabus within the limited timeframe. I consistently discussed the curriculum and pedagogies with my course manager and colleagues for the best course outcomes. I talked to friends who were in the related field and I referred to available literatures and resources for more information. As part of the new course development, we needed to establish 20 new industrial placements for the students. I called up, emailed and met many industrial partners together with my course manager and we were succesful in  securing enough placements for the students. We had to just keep trying and finding ways to resolve different issues that arose during the development. In the end, it was all very satisfying and well worth it.

Seeing my students develop and engage me on taught concepts gives me lots of fulfilment. Once in a while I may receive cards, emails and visits from ex-students. It is really gratifying when students come to you and thank you for what you have given them. Sometimes you don’t even realise that you are actually helping a student when you do something. I remember once I was walking on the street and a young man who looked familiar to me walked past me but I wasn’t paying much attention. Suddenly someone called me from behind and said: “teacher thank you for the As”. This student was  very worried for his future then because he did not score well for his first 2 years of studies. He told me that I had motivated him to work hard and given him the confidence. As such, he scored well in his final year.

In my organisation, I am currently part of the teaching and learning taskforce for my school. In this taskforce, we look at setting up / improving teaching and assessment practices. We will be also embarking on educational research in the near future.

Reflection and passion combined with the eagerness for learning and trying new things. These challenge me to try new practices or pedagogies for continuous improvement of my teaching.  Trying new pedagogies allows me to find the best way to teach the students and ensures that I am providing quality teaching for the students.

There is this Chinese proverb “the teacher is the engineer of the human soul”. Anyone who would like to be a teacher is embarking on a very meaningful career. You are also carrying great responsibilities to nurture the next generation. However, I believe you will have a fruitful journey if you have the  passion and commitment!