An egg cracker

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Reflection 3: Post Fieldwork Package Blog

Designing this field study package is tough work. The topic for the field study package is a tough decision to make. We begin the planning of the package with a lot of zest and topics in mind: landforms, rivers, coasts, vegetation, agriculture, tourism, industries etc.

The first question we have: Local or Overseas? We wanted to venture out of Singapore initially. The reasons: 1) we want to take a break from all those stifling NIE assignments; 2) to tap into the abundant resources that our neighboring countries have to offer; 3) we think Singapore is a boring place to conduct fieldwork. However, time is not on our side and many of us are working on huge assignments within tight datelines, thus we decided to abandon our overseas field study plans.

The second question: Natural or Human? We feel that a field study package on physical geography is more challenging. Firstly, we are generally weak in Physical geography. Secondly, given the limited resources that Singapore has, it would be more meaningful to show students the remarkable natural landscapes that we have here. I would find myself more competent to conduct fieldwork on topics in Human geography. There are also more aspects of human geography to be explored within Singapore. I feel that the time we have in NIE is very limited therefore we should stretch it as far as we could to gather as much resources as possible. And I feel that for the sake of resource collection, a physical geography package is more precious than a human one.

The third question: Which physical geography topic to choose? Initially, we are interested in doing rivers and drainage system and coasts. However, due to constraint in Singapore, we decide to do with what we have coasts and vegetation (rainforest and mangroves).

A well thought out and well designed field work package is a very demanding job to do. Since the lesson is carried out outside the classroom, it is outside of a controlled environment. Therefore, the teacher has more responsibilities to carefully plan things to the very detail. The package spans through 3 phases: pre-fieldwork, fieldwork and post fieldwork. Each of the phases requires very specific and careful planning. And these do not even include the recee sessions that need to be carried out.

Field work is an important aspect for the study of geography. However, I can understand why is it that our own teachers do not bring us to many fieldtrips. There are simply too much work involved and too many risks to be taken. While writing this blog entry, I thought about the karimun trip that my geog teacher brought us when I was in secondary 3. All I could remember from the trip is the hotel stay, the times I had with my friends in our hotel room, the dirty food we eat, the prostitutes that we saw in the morning outside the hotel and perhaps some rocks. But I had forgotten all the geographical stuff that I am brought to see in the first place. I remembered that my petite female geography teacher can’t really handle us therefore our P.E. teacher came along. And during the night, they are both busy checking on us to make sure that we did not sneak out on our own. Well, all teenagers are like that.

The main issue I have in mind is manpower. MOE states that the ratio of teacher to students should be 1:20 for all trips. However in reality, it is often hard to get help from other teachers to help out in a field trip. Like what we illustrate in our vegetation field package, it is very difficult to lead 40 students and explain things to them during the trip. Therefore, a geography teacher needs to make a few trips to bring different groups of students and explain the concepts to them over and over again.

It’s really not easy to be a teacher.. And it’s even harder to be a geography teacher…