Quality Education: What it is and why it matters?


05 Mar 2023 12:09am
SPM candidates from Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Anderson in Ipoh lining up to sit for exam paper last month. (Photo by BERNAMA)
SPM candidates from Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Anderson in Ipoh lining up to sit for exam paper last month. (Photo by BERNAMA)

There are several perspectives about education.

According to educational theory of Professor David Perkins (Harvard Graduate School of Education): The goals of education are to teach for understanding: to help students learn to use knowledge to solve unexpected problems rather than recite back facts; and to develop a culture of thinking in the classroom so that students think critically and creatively thereby gaining intellectual empowerment.

The primary skill worth learning is deep thinking which involves the flexible and active use of knowledge.

Perkins also emphasized on developing on a range of understanding performance in which student go beyond the information given and develop insight into important concepts

Another skill that is worth learning is thoughtful learning which is defined as learning rich with connection making, across subject matter learning that is necessary for insight and deep thinking.

Education is crucial in nation building thus it is important for the policy makers and implementers to view education in a broad and intellectual perspectives.

Quality education requires sustainable policies, well planned implementation, and procedures so that students could develop deep understanding of the subject matter contents that they learned in classrooms. To develop understanding among learners, we need to develop effective framework for teaching and well-designed curriculum.

There are several views about the concept of understanding.

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Understanding requires students to extend, synthesize and apply what students know (Wiske, 1998, p.4). The concept was also viewed as the ‘ability to think and act flexibly with what one knows’ (Perkins, 1998, p.40).

Teaching for understanding and thinking require a well-designed curriculum and relevant pedagogical approaches. There must be an alignment between curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment.

Curriculum standard must be based on research, pilot, and impact studies to ensure that students develop cognitive ability such as analytical skills, decision making problem solving and intellectual traits such as logicalness, open mindedness, integrity, and Intellectual humility

Poor curriculum design could be seen in strong rejection of students to learning largely due to too much content knowledge that is beyond students’ cognitive ability

As a result, students will lose interest especially in subjects that needs lots of reasoning and thinking such as mathematics and science. Teachers will have no opportunity to develop thinking skills among their students as they have to focus on information transfer instead of teaching for understanding in a rush to complete the syllabus.

An effective curriculum provides teachers, students, school administrators community stakeholders with a measurable plan and structure for delivering quality education.

Today’s education requires knowing what to do with information, that is how to analyse it, make sense of its abundance and complexities, collaborate with others to synthesize more information and ideas for effective decision making and sustainable problem solving. Hence well-designed curriculum would provide teachers who are equipped with sound pedagogical content knowledge to deliver their instructions that would allow for the development higher-order thinking skills (HOTS) among learners

In conclusion, Malaysia’s education system needs an urgent rethinking and effort on issues of overloaded curriculum and poor pedagogical approaches and the problems faced by teachers in the implementation of classroom-based assessment or school-based assessment.

Unless these three main issues are resolved, it is unlikely that Malaysia will be able to produce students who are critical, analytical, reflective, creative, and innovative.

As a result, students will go into their professional life without skills in decision making, problem solving and would not serve their society well as they lack these important complex thinking tasks.

Quality education matters as Malaysia need to develop human potentials to ensure that we have leaders that are characterised by empathy, humility, and good governance to advance the nation in various fields of science and technology and thus will enhance the economic growth of the country.

Zahari Othman is also a Fellow at Institute of Mathematical Science, Faculty of Science, University Malaya.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of Sinar Daily.

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