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A lesson on empathy and care

24 Aug 2020

AISS ALP-CSI online conference

Students shared their thoughts about how Home-Based Learning could be improved with their teachers and Vice-Principal at an online conference.

In teaching students to reflect on social issues, Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary School got them to look at the Home-Based Learning experience for underprivileged families.

11 lower-secondary students took this on and shared their thoughts with their teachers and Vice-Principal. By Neo Wen Tong

How could Home-Based Learning (HBL) be made better for underprivileged students?

This was a question that Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary School teachers posed to a group of 11 Secondary 1 and 2 students, as part of their role as ambassadors for the school’s Critical Social Inquiry Applied Learning Programme (ALP).

The students presented their thoughts at an online conference during the July mid-term break, with teachers taking on the roles of moderator and audience, and their Vice-Principal as a special guest.

Before the conference, the students had to find out what HBL was like for underprivileged students. Other than doing desktop research like watching current affairs reports and reading news articles, the students also interviewed their classmates to understand how the HBL experience varied from person to person.

Though full HBL may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it was a topic that provided common ground for the students since every one of them went through it, says Senior Teacher Ms Esther Heng, who is one of the teachers in charge of the ALP. 

She adds that working on projects like these allows students to learn to look at society through a different, more discerning lens. “Students pick up a critical yet ‘social’ eye to view issues in the community. In this case, it was on inequality. I’m glad that other than thinking of how the school can help underprivileged students, they also asked themselves, how can I help?”

Secondary 1 student Sankar Gowri learnt that for her classmates who have siblings, a common issue was that they only had one laptop at home to share. Not only did they have to work out schedules to take turns using the laptop for HBL, it was harder to focus at home as there were limited conducive learning spaces for everyone. Some had to help their younger siblings with their HBL on top of their own work. 

“Personally, I can contact my classmates and lend them a listening ear, a helping hand, or encourage them when they feel frustrated,” Gowri says.

She adds that being appointed an ambassador has been a highlight for her first year in secondary school. “I truly enjoy this experience. It makes me read the news more and I’m learning to understand others better.” 

And though the task was to find out about her schoolmates’ experience, Gowri pleasantly surprised her teachers during the conference by sharing a little nugget she learnt about them, too. 

“I thought that teachers are already very advanced in terms of technology, since they normally use PowerPoint slides and other online platforms in class. But when reading up, I learnt that they found HBL challenging too. I realised I should be grateful and learn to appreciate them more, and not just think that they’re giving too much homework!”