%-During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, many countries worldwide enforced their schools to implement distance learning. This is to close the physical premises of schools and keep children safe from the coronavirus. But Singapore is among the first countries to physically open their schools — at least partially. Instead of forcing children to cope with the challenges of distance learning, Singapore’s Ministry of Education scaled down the operations of their schools and strictly maintained health safety protocols.
There are many reasons behind this decision by the government. But one of them is keeping students’ ability to conduct hands-on learning. Despite the ongoing pandemic, Singaporean schools did their best to truly minimize the negative impact on students’ learning. The experts at the Ministry of Education, school leaders, and teachers found that sacrificing hands-on learning for the students can lead to negative long-term impacts not just inside the classroom but, eventually, outside of it.
To understand their decision to open their schools early and start offering traineeship opportunities to older students again, these are the long-term benefits of hands-on learning.
Retention of Knowledge and Skills
If we ask, say, a college student majoring in computer science what they remember about his high school classes on Shakespeare, it’s highly possible that they won’t remember much. Sure, they may say that they achieved high marks in their English classes at that time. They might even cite a highly-graded essay or two. But, now, they don’t remember much about Shakespeare. This problem with retention of knowledge becomes even more concerning if students don’t participate in hands-on learning.
This is because multiple studies have shown that hands-on learning can greatly benefit people’s ability to retain knowledge and skills. One of such studies conducted in the United States found that those who don’t engage in hands-on learning were 1.5 times more likely to fail an exam or a course.
So, by physically opening schools earlier than most schools worldwide, Singapore is ensuring that their education outcomes stay high. By doing so, they are ensuring that their students would become more equipped with retained knowledge and skills that would be highly beneficial in the future workplace.
Honing of Critical Thinking and Problem-solving Skills
As we all know, there are many ways to develop and maintain critical thinking and problem-solving skills. We can practice critical thinking by reading books and analyzing them through essay-writing. We can practice problem-solving by sitting down and accomplishing mathematical problems. But one of the better ways to hone such skills is through hands-on learning. And this is because of the way it engages both sides of our brains.
The left hemisphere of the brain is more active when engaging in listening and analyzing. On the other hand, the right hemisphere is more active when engaging in visual and spatial processes. By conducting hands-on learning, we can operate both sides of the brain simultaneously. As a result, we would become more adept at critical thinking and problem-solving.
Such skills would be beneficial in the workplace, no matter what industry we would end up in. So, again, by opening schools early and engaging students in hands-on learning, the Singaporean government has been maintaining its future-forward mindset by looking at how today’s education system can affect the workforce of tomorrow.
Keeping Up with In-demand Jobs
A few weeks ago, LinkedIn published its Jobs on the Rise report, exploring the most in-demand jobs worldwide. In Singapore, experts have found these jobs that the country truly needs today. In the healthcare industry, for example, the country is greatly in need of mental health professionals such as psychologists, social workers, and counselors.
Researchers at LinkedIn also found Singapore needs workers in logistics, supply chain management, and warehousing. This is in response to the rise of online shopping and other delivery services. Another sector that requires workers is finance. Even with the rise of digital banking these days, Singapore still needs bankers, financial advisors, and investors.
In light of these in-demand jobs in Singapore, it’s clear that students today would really need to be more adept at hands-on learning. This is why the Singaporean government is trying its best to maintain hands-on learning for the country’s future workers.
With these benefits, it’s clear that hands-on learning is beneficial inside the classroom and outside of it. This form of learning is not just about students getting good grades and getting awards and other recognition. In truth, it’s really about building the most highly skilled workforce in the country’s future.