Looking for the greener side of the grass

Written by Habiba Bano

The life of a student can actually be classified quite efficiently, if corresponded with a simple video game. The beginning, in whichrepparttar student finishes grades 1-10, and completing Inter or metric. As with everything in life,repparttar 109268 beginning is justrepparttar 109269 easy part. But nevertheless, Stage one completed. After this significant step inrepparttar 109270 students life, he now faces a major cross-road right in his face. 'Doctor or Engineer?' This could possibly berepparttar 109271 most spoken and pondered question by Pakistani 15 year olds. Choosing a career after Inter, or matriculation, is one ofrepparttar 109272 biggest decision a student can make. His whole future,repparttar 109273 immediate and inrepparttar 109274 long term, is decided when this decision is made. Pressure from all aspects of his life strongly influences this monumental decision; advice from friends and colleagues, parents and relatives, and alsorepparttar 109275 financial state of his family. Another major factor, that may have tippedrepparttar 109276 scale on numerous occasions, isrepparttar 109277 traditional Pakistani belief thatrepparttar 109278 only respected profession is either to become a doctor, or an engineer. Straining under allrepparttar 109279 pressure,repparttar 109280 student makes his choice, if in fact it was his decision. He chooses to persue a career inrepparttar 109281 vast field of medicine, in hopes of ultimately becoming a doctor, and alongrepparttar 109282 way ful-filling his family's hopes and desires. He now faces two grueling years of pre-medical, in which he studies with a vengeance and achieves outstanding marks. Stage two completed. He applies for a seat in a prestigious university. He is invited to sitrepparttar 109283 admission test. It goes well, but under par of his usual performance. The student is confident he can get a seat in this university. Result day arrives with somber news. The student is devastated. The university offered his place to another student who fared better inrepparttar 109284 entrance exam, but achieved lower grades in pre-med. In Pakistan,a student in this situation has only a handful of choices. He could apply in a private university, butrepparttar 109285 fee scares away most hopefuls. He could join one ofrepparttar 109286 numerous coaching classes(Private Universities/Institutes), where he spends years earning a degree of BBA,BCS, etc, which is thrown back in his face when he applies for a job due torepparttar 109287 Institute not being accredited. Or he could simply recap, take Maths, apply for an engineering university and hope that he gets in, and hope thatrepparttar 109288 two years he spent studying pre-med were not wasted and don’t severely affect his future student life.


Written by Dr. Alvin Chan

The L.E.A.D.E.R. Way


In June 1997,the Prime Minister of Singapore unveiledrepparttar Government’s vision of ‘Thinking Schools, Learning Nation’ (TSLN). This vision was forged to improve Singapore’s education system inrepparttar 109267 light ofrepparttar 109268 rapid changes aroundrepparttar 109269 world. The Government foresees that Singapore, with its limited natural resources, can only continue to progress by nurturing a knowledgeable workforce that is adaptable torepparttar 109270 changes inrepparttar 109271 world economy. More importantly,repparttar 109272 Government realized that it had to start preparingrepparttar 109273 nation for these inevitable changes by revampingrepparttar 109274 education system in accordance withrepparttar 109275 vision of TSLN.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) in Singapore,repparttar 109276 state agency responsible forrepparttar 109277 undertaking of this vision, statesrepparttar 109278 goals of TSLN as follows:

Thinking Schools ensure that we equip students with skills and knowledge and values and instincts to face future challenges, while Learning Nation aims to promote a culture of continual learning beyondrepparttar 109279 school environment. (MOE, 1998,p.16)

In order to realizerepparttar 109280 vision,repparttar 109281 MOE has introduced changes torepparttar 109282 curriculum,repparttar 109283 training of teachers, assessment modes andrepparttar 109284 development of resource packages. Furthermore, all schools will have students spending at least 30% of their curriculum time accessing electronic resources and working on computers. (MOE, 1998,p.17) The changes inrepparttar 109285 curriculum includerepparttar 109286 infusion of thinking skills andrepparttar 109287 reduction inrepparttar 109288 contents ofrepparttar 109289 curriculum. Schools are strongly encouraged to set up their own thinking programs and teachers are to enroll in courses to learn how to infuse thinking skills in their teaching.

Withrepparttar 109290 restructuring taking place to realizerepparttar 109291 vision, most teachers fear thatrepparttar 109292 changes will burden them by increasing their already-heavy workload and tight time schedule due to increased training hours. The principal, beingrepparttar 109293 main disseminator ofrepparttar 109294 MOE’s mission of TSLN inrepparttar 109295 school, hasrepparttar 109296 unenviable task to articulate this vision to overcomerepparttar 109297 resistance torepparttar 109298 changes especially fromrepparttar 109299 school’s teachers.

The main objective ofrepparttar 109300 paper is to explorerepparttar 109301 perceptions of teachers as torepparttar 109302 effectiveness of principals in leading a change programs (in this case, a Thinking Programs). Since teachers are directly responsible forrepparttar 109303 learning outcomes ofrepparttar 109304 students, their perceptions of their principals’ effectiveness and concomitant actions are vital torepparttar 109305 success ofrepparttar 109306 vision of TSLN. As part ofrepparttar 109307 paper, a case study of a primary school, which has embarked on a Thinking Programs, has been carried out.


Inrepparttar 109308 hope of improvingrepparttar 109309 existing system, schools face many problems when introducing well-meaning changes. Restructuring would, inevitably, involve people withinrepparttar 109310 organisation to absorb new ideas and ideals that usually result in many uncertainties (Heckman, 1990). A school’s principal, thus, hasrepparttar 109311 uphill task to managerepparttar 109312 level of resistance to change and alignrepparttar 109313 staff to work towards a common vision, amidstrepparttar 109314 turbulence.

To reiterate,repparttar 109315 author is focussing on teachers’ perceptions of their principal in leading change, more specifically,repparttar 109316 process of creating a Thinking Programme forrepparttar 109317 school. The importance of teachers’ perception of their leaders inrepparttar 109318 success of a school has been documented in various researches. Researchers (such as Bhella, 1992) suggested that teachers’ morale is related to student achievement. And, in turn,repparttar 109319 principal hasrepparttar 109320 strongest influence on teachers’ satisfaction inrepparttar 109321 workplace. (Vanderstoepe et al, 1994) From that perspective,repparttar 109322 teachers’ satisfaction and perceptions ofrepparttar 109323 principal in leadingrepparttar 109324 change process would directly have an impact onrepparttar 109325 success rate ofrepparttar 109326 new programme of boosting students’ achievement.

Inrepparttar 109327 process of writing,repparttar 109328 author discussed with many teachers on what they expect their leaders to do when introducing a new programs to their schools. The author has summarizedrepparttar 109329 teachers’ opinions for inclusion in this paper. Previous research and literature would be used to illuminaterepparttar 109330 factors that are critical torepparttar 109331 success of a principal in leading a change programs. To further enhance clarity of exposition, I have presented systematicallyrepparttar 109332 ideas encapsulated in previous research by usingrepparttar 109333 acronym of L.E.A.D.E.R as a model to elucidaterepparttar 109334 steps in leading a successful change programs in a school. The acronym of L.E.A.D.E.R stands for:

Leading by example

Empowering vision

Adaptive change

Developing people

Evaluatingrepparttar 109335 system


The above model does not try to be prescriptive or attempt to imply that it will cover allrepparttar 109336 salient factors of an effective change programme. Due torepparttar 109337 prescribed length ofrepparttar 109338 paper,repparttar 109339 author hopes thatrepparttar 109340 model will shed more light inrepparttar 109341 topic of research in a more methodical manner.

Leading by Example

In most organisations that have embarked on a change programme, one ofrepparttar 109342 more common complaints byrepparttar 109343 employees is thatrepparttar 109344 leader does not ‘walkrepparttar 109345 talk’. In a school, if a principal is not willing to learn and adapt to changes, there are no compelling reasons forrepparttar 109346 staff to do so. The Scout’s motto, ‘ Lead by Example’, is a major criteria of what a principal must do to succeed in leading change.

In order to create a thinking and learning organisation, principal will become researchers and designers rather than controllers and overseers. They should also be a model of learning torepparttar 109347 rest ofrepparttar 109348 organisation and encouragerepparttar 109349 staff to be life-long learners. (Senge, 1990) More importantly, a principal must not merely communicate in words, but by deeds to convincerepparttar 109350 staff thatrepparttar 109351 change is happening at all levels. These build a sense of esprit de corp inrepparttar 109352 school that will help in lesseningrepparttar 109353 pressures that change brings to organisations.

In short, a principal has to be perceived to be capable in leading school educational development by his or her own example. (Dunning, 1993; McHugh & McMullan, 1995) Unlessrepparttar 109354 staffs are convinced, they will not work co-operatively towardsrepparttar 109355 success ofrepparttar 109356 change programme.

Empowering Vision

A change programme requires a change of vision. According to Kotter (1995, p.10),

“ A vision says something that clarifiesrepparttar 109357 direction in which an organisation needs to move.”

The Ministry of Education developedrepparttar 109358 vision of TSLN inrepparttar 109359 middle of 1997. Inrepparttar 109360 schools, banners are put up to heraldrepparttar 109361 vision of TSLN and school principals were expected to alignrepparttar 109362 teachers towards this shared vision forrepparttar 109363 betterment ofrepparttar 109364 schools. The principals are expected to modify culture through skill in communication ofrepparttar 109365 necessary shared values for a changed vision. (Campbell-Evans, 1993).

Adaptive Change

In most organisations’ change programme,repparttar 109366 appropriate pace of change is often ignored. Most leaders are impatient to see results and thus apply unwarranted pressures on those involved inrepparttar 109367 process .In Singapore schools; such a situation is a commonplace. Withrepparttar 109368 MOE’s intention of creating a world-class educational system in Singapore, many new initiatives are introduced within a short period of time. Most ofrepparttar 109369 initiatives will require much time and effort ofrepparttar 109370 teachers, on top of their already-heavy load. Such a situation often causes distress andrepparttar 109371 principal has to addressrepparttar 109372 issues.

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