Moulding the Future Generations of Singapore

Hiking Scafell Pike in the Lake District during semester exchange. (Calyn Seah, on the right).

Identifying a specific career path as a young adult can be daunting. Looking back at her 18-year-old self, Ministry of Education (MOE) Teaching Award Scholar Calyn Seah was initially uncertain about her choices. Discover how her passion for education and the prospect of making a positive impact on students propelled her to enrol with the Nanyang Technological University – National Institute of Education Teaching Scholars’ Programme (NTU-NIE TSP).

Travelling with friends in Edinburgh, Scotland during semester exchange (Calyn Seah, centred).

Becoming a Well-Rounded Educator

Education has always been a possible career path. After witnessing how my history teacher from Junior College demonstrated passion for his subject content and established strong bonds with his students, I was inspired to make a difference as he did. Moreover, the prospect of making a positive impact on students stood out to me. However, my eighteen-year-old self had not yet pinpointed a specific career path.

Hence, when I first came across this scholarship programme, I was initially uncertain if this was the path I wanted to commit to. My conviction grew after researching the NTU-NIE TSP. I realised that it provides vast opportunities and a well-rounded education to prepare student-teachers for the teaching profession. Having gone through the programme for the past four years, I am affirmed by my decision. I am certain that this programme would equip me with the knowledge and skills to develop me into the kind of educator I want to be.

Leading Project Love Sikkim, an overseas NIE service. (Calyn Seah, centred, fourth from the left).

Endless Learning Opportunities

I was pleasantly surprised by the myriad of opportunities that TSP provides. They include overseas experiences such as studying linguistics at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, as part of the Student Exchange Programme and local opportunities such as completing yearly school attachments. I also had the opportunity to intern at the MOE English Language and Literature Branch (ELLB) under the Curriculum Policy and Planning Development Division (CPDD), which is part of the BUILD (Building University Interns for Leadership Development) programme.

A memorable experience I had was participating in a summer exchange programme at Linköping University, Sweden. During the 1-month programme, I attended a course on outdoor education with some of my batchmates. We had the opportunity to learn about outdoor education from the Scandinavian perspective and the general Swedish education system. Apart from engaging in stimulating discussions on the pedagogical practices and implications of the outdoor school curriculum, I had the opportunity to conduct an English lesson outdoors! It was particularly interesting to me as a future educator since we do not typically experience outdoor education in Singapore. This eye-opening experience broadened my perspectives and allowed me to go beyond what I can learn in a classroom.

These diverse experiences allowed me to gain new insights on the different levels of education and enabled me to reflect on my educational beliefs. Additionally, I participated in the NTU Undergraduate Research Experience on Campus (URECA) to work on my educational research project. This scholarship programme has exposed me to many avenues for personal growth and development, and I am grateful for all the opportunities that came my way.

Beyond the Curriculum

One of the biggest challenges in my university journey was juggling all the commitments that I took up alongside my studies. As a fulfilling university life is not just about academics, I made it a point to involve myself in multiple co-curricular activities, which helped contribute to a vibrant school life. From organising and executing events as the Vice President of the 31st NIE Student Teachers’ Club (NSTC) to leading a team on an NIE service-learning project (Project Love Sikkim) in India, my active involvement in these activities has increased my workload considerably. There were moments when it seemed overwhelming. However, this challenge has been undeniably instrumental in my personal growth as I have learned to manage and prioritise my time well over the years. More importantly, these opportunities have honed my leadership skills and contributed towards my holistic growth.

I would advise aspiring scholars applying for this programme to first think about your personal beliefs and values. Should you find them aligning with the work you will do as a teacher, do thorough research to gain a good understanding of what this scholarship programme entails. If you desire to inspire the future generation, I am sure TSP will be one of the best decisions you will ever make!

Last But Not Least

If I could acquire a superpower related to education and teaching students, I would like to read students’ minds (albeit not in an invasive way!) It would allow me to instantly understand their learning styles and needs and tailor my lessons and teaching approaches accordingly. Moreover, by gaining insights into students’ thoughts and emotions, I can identify any difficulty they face and provide timely help, creating a supportive environment where they feel heard and valued in their academic and personal well-being.

MOE Teaching Award
Bachelor of Arts in English Language & Linguistics and Education (Double Major)
Nanyang Technological University – National Institute of Education