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ACTS Seminar

2nd Anglican Character, Thinking and Service Leadership Seminar

ACTS IN ACTION IN ANGLICAN SCHOOLS

The 2nd Anglican Character, Thinking and Service (ACTS) Leadership Seminar, ACTS IN ACTION IN ANGLICAN SCHOOLS was held on 27 February 2015 at Anglican High School.  Building on the first seminar held in 2014, this seminar aimed to promote the sharing of good practices in implementing the ACTS curriculum, a progressive, values-based total curriculum. It also sought to draw a focus on how Critical Thinking and Intellectual Virtues have been interwoven with both the academic and non-academic curricula, as a vehicle for change. 

Besides the 200 educators participating in this seminar, present also were the Guest-of-Honour, The Right Reverend Rennis Ponniah, Bishop of Singapore, Reverend Joshua Sudharman, Chairman of Diocese Education Board, Mrs Chan Jee Kun, Diocesan Secretary for Schools, Reverend Thong, All Saints Church and the keynote speaker, Dr Phillip Towndrow, Senior Research Scientist at the Centre for Research in Pedagogy and Practice, National Institute of Education. This was an encouragement to our educators as it was a strong signal to them that the journey in nurturing students of exemplary character and empowering students to be 21st century servant leaders was a vision shared and supported by the Church, as well as partner educational institutions. 
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Of note was Dr Phillip Towndrow’s keynote address, Critical Thinking: The fields and the games we can play on them. ‘What is my purpose in doing what I do?’, ‘How did I reach my conclusion?’, ‘Is there another point of view I should consider?’---these are just a few of the good questions that students should continually ask themselves. Yet, applying such deliberate thought and thoroughness to approaching issues and making decisions is something that is not innate to all. It is a process of learning that begins with the recognition that education is not about finding all the right answers but rather asking the right questions. Dr Towndrow’s keynote address gave the participants an overview of the Paul and Elder Critical Thinking Framework and provided practical examples of how the elements of reasoning could be tapped on in engaging and innovative ways in teaching subject content matter. These included the application of critical thinking questions to authentic case scenarios, as well as the use of a ‘Question Dice’ to constantly keep students on their feet when approaching new pieces of information.

With four schools (St Andrew’s Junior College, St Andrew’s Secondary School, St Margaret’s Secondary School and Anglican High School) sharing at sixteen concurrent sessions, each participant also had the opportunity to attend two concurrent sessions.  The scope of these sessions ranged from the Humanities to the Math and Sciences, as well as the non-academic areas such as Student Leadership and Character and Citizenship Education. The presenters at the seminar provided many examples of successful and innovative strategies on how they have infused critical thinking in their classroom pedagogies. 80% of participants strongly agree or agree that they can apply the idea(s) learnt at the concurrent sessions. The photographs below attest to the high level of interaction between the presenters and the participants who were actively engaged in this networked learning community to hone their craft.
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More than the rich sharing of ideas, the 2nd ACTS symposium was one where participants were challenged to persevere in the good work that they were doing. Indeed, the exhortation by The Right Reverend Rennis Ponniah, to “Train a child in the way he should go” with the assurance that “even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) will be a call that continues to ring in the hearts of our educators.