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Experiential Learning Engages Students at Manjusri Secondary School

26 Nov 2012

Minister at Manjusri Secondary School's 30th Anniversary Homecoming Dinner

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat joins Manjusri Secondary School for their 30th Anniversary Homecoming Dinner.

"????????This phrase from The Analects of Confucius, means 'At thirty, I stood firm'," says Mr Low Chun Meng, Principal of Manjusri Secondary School, as the school celebrated its 30th Anniversary Homecoming Dinner last Friday, 23 November.

"For Manjusri Secondary School, our thirtieth anniversary also marks a "coming of age" for the school. It has not been easy to build a school and sustain it for 30 years."

Alumni, staff, students and Education Minister Heng Swee Keat were present to celebrate this occasion.

Founded in 1982, Manjusri Secondary is the only secondary school sponsored by the Singapore Buddhist Federation (SBF) in addition to other schools like Maha Bodhi Primary School. Though religiously affiliated, Manjusri Secondary welcomes all students with open arms.

'Manjusri' means the Bodhisattva of Great Wisdom. The school believes that wisdom comes from experience and a willingness to learn from others. As such, emphasis is placed on diverse experiential learning programmes such as Skills in Project Work (SPW), wushu, their niche co-curricular activity (CCA), and a new Robotics Enrichment programme.

Skills in Project Work (SPW)

The SPW curriculum is unique to Manjusri and aims to raise students' awareness of real world issues. Students are engaged in modular lessons and learning journeys, which are conducted over a period of 10 weeks, culminating in a SPW Fest.

Pupils learn about eco-tourism at Taman Negara

Pupils find out about eco-tourism during a hands-on learning journey to Taman Negara National Park in Malaysia. Photo Credit: Manjusri Secondary School

For example, Secondary One students once visited Gardenasia, a recycling company, and learnt to make handicrafts with used materials. Secondary Three students also researched on eco-tourism before embarking on an eye-opening trip to Taman Negara National Park in Malaysia.

These activities open up opportunities for students to learn life skills, like working as a team, carrying out research, making decisions and managing a budget.

Wushu as a Niche CCA

In developing wushu as their niche CCA, the school is supported by coaches from the Singapore National Wushu Federation, who have also trained Singapore's national wushu team.

Wushu as a niche CCA.

Wushu is a niche CCA at Manjusri Secondary School. Photo Credit: Manjusri Secondary School

As part of the Secondary One Physical Education curriculum, all students participate in a 10-week wushu programme, and go through a tryout if they wish to join the school team.

Those selected to join the CCA can specialise in Chang Quan (also known as Long Fist Boxing) or Taiji and will move on from basic techniques to more complex manoeuvres and mental strategies, says Denise Lee, a member of the school wushu team.

Through the tradition of wushu, the school has a strong group of alumni and some of them often return to join the training and help the new members, says Lee.

Alumnus, Mr Goh Qiu Bin, is one of those who returned to serve his alma mater as a Taiji coach. He was Sportsman of the Year in 2006 and a three-time Taiji Gold medallist at the South-East Asian Games!

The coaches also plan overseas trips to schools in China, to expose the school team to the place where wushu originated.

Robotics Enrichment Programme

The Robotics Enrichment Programme is a new initiative by the school this year which aims to spark pupils' interest in science.

Pupils learn about eco-tourism at Taman Negara

Robotics programming challenges pupils to problem solve. Photo Credit: Manjusri Secondary School

Secondary Two students work in small groups, each experimenting with a robot (a LEGO NXT 2.0 Mindstorm). They learn to solve problems by first studying basic programming instructions, and then brainstorming to work out a method for the robot to complete a task. With this hands-on approach, pupils learn the basics of computer programming and teamwork.

Through experiential initiatives like these, the school hopes to continue to nurture the next generation of engaged learners.

"These programmes expose students to different experiences and develop in them life skills such as perseverance, diligence, teamwork and commitment. These are skills that will continue to stand our students in good stead even after they leave their alma mater," says Minister Heng.