Mr Noel Ong is a graduate from the National University of Singapore with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and English Literature. He also earned a Post-Graduate Diploma in Education (Secondary) from the National Institute of Education in Nanyang Technological University, to teach History and English Literature, in 1998. Thereafter, he spent 18 years teaching History, Social Studies and English Literature in Shuqun Secondary School.
In 2001, he was selected to be part of the pioneer batch of teachers to start teaching the then brand new subject being introduced into the Singapore education system – Social Studies (SS). Initially apprehensive, he slowly began to see SS as a subject of equal importance to any other in the Singapore school curriculum – that to know how one’s country functions, to understand the rationale behind your countries directions and policies, was and still is vitally important to the holistic growth of an individual and a citizen.
Furthermore, having taught the subject for 18 years now, he also understands how it is essentially a skills-based subject, and especially with the newest syllabus rolled out in 2016, it is no longer a subject that rewards rote learning, but has instead evolved into a true assessment of critical thinking, and answering skills. As such, he now sees SS as a subject that is essentially a matter of teachable skills and techniques that can help a student not only repeatedly score well at assessments and exams, but also bring forth and develop critical thinking skills which are decidedly lacking on other parts of the Singapore schools’ curriculum. In short; with the right guidance in SS, students can score, and students learn to think.
His wealth of experience with this subject also stems from having assisted MOE HQ in assessing and test-piloting this current syllabus (In 2015 he was part of a group of school teachers chosen to assess and give feedback on the syllabus text before it was released, and he was also chosen to test out actual planned lessons based on the new text, on a variety of classes, express and normal(academic)) and also as a participant in the 2012 – 2015 O level marking exercises conducted by the Singapore Examination and Assessment Branch (SEAB).
A strong advocate of a responsive classroom, Noel believes students cannot be passive learners but must also be challenged to question and investigate the issues that are pertinent to current Singapore society. He is also a proponent of a fun classroom, and strives to contrast dry syllabus content with a healthy dose of the absurd. He also believes that an effective lesson must also engage as many senses as possible, and so must contain not just written materials, but also audio-visual and even tactile constituents to make learning effective. For the future, he will continue to try his best to be as effective a teacher as he can possibly be.