Tuesday, July 7

Curtin students find teaching exchange a real eye-opener

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On an excursion at Taman Awam with students of Tadika Sri Mawar and their parents.

MIRI: Nine Curtin students from Western Australia recently completed a two-week teaching exchange programme with various schools here under the AsiaBound Grants Programme 2014.

Their stint in Miri was facilitated by Curtin University Sarawak and according to them, the experience in learning about education systems outside of Australia was a real eye-opener.

The students from the School of Education, Faculty of Humanities of Curtin University in Perth, were Emily Foster, Sam Brojanowski, Giselle Birmingham, Esther Ballast, Megan Ciccotosto, Samantha Leyton, Alicia Dawson, Jessica Williams and Ashleigh Trott. They were accompanied and supervised by a lecturer from the School of Education, Dr Rachel Sheffield.

“Teaching internationally was not a career path I considered previously but this experience has changed my mindset.

“The opportunity to come to a new country and experience a new culture, traditions, languages and teaching practices has definitely sparked my interest in teaching in unfamiliar places. This experience is something I will treasure for a long time,” said Ciccotosto.

Meanwhile, Leyton, who said she was privileged to observe different cultures in every school, opined that it was interesting to note how much emphasis is placed in examinations in Malaysia.

“It makes me wonder if teaching is about understanding concepts or passing exams,” she remarked.

The AsiaBound Grants Programme provides grants to approximately 3,600 Australian students each year to enrol in short-term mobility programmes in Asia such as internships, clinical placements, study tours, research trips or volunteer projects for up to six months. It gives them a first-hand study experience of Asia and to enhance their skills and expertise.

Aligned with Curtin Sarawak’s ‘Professional Practice in Primary Education: An exposure to different cultural environments in Sarawak’ project, it also provides students specialising in primary education a unique practical experience in Sarawak, where they apply their teaching skills in the preparation of teaching plans to be delivered in local public, private or international schools.

The exposure also enabled the students to compare their teaching experiences in different settings, test their skills and competencies, as well as give them an accelerated learning experience in a true international context in Asia, including the cultural elements.

Throughout the programme, the nine aspiring teachers conducted assessments on the various curriculums they have encountered, namely the Australian Curriculum, Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Rendah (KSSR) and International Primary Curriculum (IPC); classroom structure covering aspects such as classroom layout, pedagogies, and relationships between peers, teachers and parents.

The four schools taking part in the programme were Sri Mawar Kindergarten, Sri Mawar Primary School, St Joseph’s Primary School and Tenby International School, Miri.

While in Miri, they also visited the Teacher Education Institute (IPG) Sarawak Campus, Pustaka Negeri Sarawak, Miri and various places of interest including Taman Awam, Crocodile Farm, Niah Caves and Patrick Libau Longhouse located in Sungai Tangap.

At the end of the programme, the students related their experience and presented their findings to a gathering of representatives from Curtin Sarawak and the participating schools at Tenby International School, Miri. Also present were Curtin Sarawak’s Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Jim Mienczakowski, University Life Manager Haslina Abdul Malek and the heads of the schools.

The students concluded that the four schools provided culturally inclusive environments for immensely diverse groups of students, and their students are keen learners geared to excel in their studies.