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Email to my colleagues about revamping final year students’ curriculum

By cryotosensei | diaperfinancingfund | 11 Feb 2023

Hi hi

To optimise the effectiveness of the meeting later, I feel compelled to state how the English department has prepared our Year 4 students for their Industry Experential Programme (IEP) so that we can synergise and not duplicate our efforts. Alternatively, when we cover similar things in our various domains, we will be informed enough to draw references to each other’s efforts so that students can deepen their neural pathways and internalise key takeaways for their long term use.


The Unit 1 Workbook covers three main things: form filling, writing a job application email and interview skills. I believe this focus was chosen during the conceptualisation of the Y4 curriculum because the students need to go for an interview with a prospective employer. They need to pass it satisfactorily, hence our job to help them speak up in front of adult interviewers.


Incidentally, Year 4 students study Pre-Employment Skills (PES), in which form filling, resume writing and interview skills are covered. I scanned through their workbook; it seems that the teachers cover the theoretical aspects. For instance, they have complied a good list of popular interview questions but don’t really cover how to answer them. Hence, to add value to what our Vocational Education colleagues are doing, we came up with notes that explain how few students can leverage the PEEL approach to give sufficiently elaborated interview answers.


Another example is how we get students to do form filling exercises - something that is tested in their Milestone Assessment.


I teach 4HS1. Some of them have already gone for their IEP interviews. They answered 3 questions mainly: hobbies, CCA and things learnt during their Hospitality course. But I think there was a minority of students who didn’t have to answer interview questions at all. Their employer gave them an informational briefing on what their IEP experience would be like instead.


I think not many students would get to answer the “tougher” questions like strengths, weaknesses and accomplishments. Nonetheless, I feel that preparing students to articulate their strengths and skills - either verbally or in written form as part of a job application letter - takes them on an introspective journey. Some of them may improve their self-awareness and be better able to sell themselves as a result of our lessons.


Still, a question lingers in my mind. How necessary is the job application letter (or cover letter) for our students in the first place? I tried out the MyCareersFuture portal the other day. It seems like I just had to upload my resume. If writing a cover letter isn’t really a crucial part of the interview process for Singapore’s job scene, then perhaps the English department should aim to enhance our students’ self-awareness via other means.


Which leads me to Ikigai, which I think is brilliant because it combines everything nicely (competency, passion, remuneration, contribution to society) in one Venn diagram. However, I understand now that the Ministry of Education uses other frameworks instead. So my interest is in the utilisation of a suitable framework to gear our students up for lifelong employability, not just for an IEP internship.


So, possible areas of synergy between EL & Education and Career Guidance:


  • frameworks that get students to pair their passions and abilities with jobs that match their interests and skill sets
  • character profiling tools. For example, MBTI is a pseudoscience but many institutions send their students for MBTI profiling because it gives them an idea of who they are.
  • EQ competencies. We could revisit the EQi framework, draw links to HOM & help them improve their EQ.
  • Top 10 most in-demand skills (of which emotional intelligence is one of them). We could focus on those that relate best to our school values (creativity and networking). We could teach our students the SCAMPER framework if we want to stretch their creativity


Societal needs

  • Emerging fields in Singapore. Spectra Secondary has courses in The Internet of Things, Mobile Web Applications and E-commerce.
  • Major trends sweeping the world, including AI, blockchain, green technologies, robotics
  • The world is VUCA and BANI (acronym made up of the words 'brittle', 'anxious', 'nonlinear' and 'incomprehensible'), so students must be prepared to undertake jobs that have not been invented yet


Personal/professional life

  • On-site working vs remote working
  • Work-life balance (with a shift towards work-life harmony)
  • Working across time zones and cultures


Once we decide on a few key themes, we could present the ideas to students in the form of listening comprehension monologues and dialogues, compare and contrast picture description exercises, visual text and reading comprehension exercises, and journal entries, among other pedagogical tools.


Just stating how I see things and offering a buffet of ideas so that we can firm up something. Cheers!

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