Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Punahou School Visit

Punahou School Visit

Punahou school is our last and final destination for our trip to Hawaii and I must say I was pleasantly surprised. At first I thought it was going to be a boring and school with un-relatable students and teachers but the moment we stepped into class, I realized how wrong I was. The Students are very friendly here and despite being if not the most then one of the most renowned schools in O'ahu and Hawaii, it had students from all walks of life. They were a lot like us in that sense and none of them were the tops of everything and exceptional at their work but they were in fact you average students. I felt that just that alone helped me to feel much more at home in the school. 

Throughout the whole day at the school, I learnt a lot about how the American school system worked, at least at Punahou School. 

The first thing I noticed was the way english class was conducted. They used iPads as well as Hard copies of the book, A Midsummer Nights Dream by William Shakespeare, The app on the iPad allowed for a visual representation of the play, interpretation of words that are not commonly found in modern english as well as a synopsis of each Act of the story. This really helps to deepen the understanding of the students. 

Another thing I noticed throughout the day was how creative their lessons were. In Social Studies, Their assignment which they presented asked them to come up with how Jazz is related to Democracy. All the students came up with songs, raps, poems, so on so forth to express and present their ideas instead of the boring old essay. Whilst this has its advantages in training the creative side of our brains, it also requires a lot of time to be done up. 

Yet another thing I had gleaned from todays session was the fact that the students development was very holistic. They had classes that would be considered CCA's for us such as choir and swimming. This allows for there to be no need for CCA's to be compulsory and there is no need for in integration of a leaps system to try to cultivate a holistic development in a student as it is already included in the curriculum. This allows for the students to end school relatively early each day at 1400 hrs  to about 1600 hrs. It also gives students the chance to express their talent in at least one class. This then leads to Punahou's students being more engaged in class as apart from their core subjects, they are also offered a chance to study subjects that they take interest in. 

Also, the Punahou school uses the homeroom system where students move to different venues to take classes rather than the teachers moving from place to place. This has both its pros and cons. Some might feel that there is no sense of belonging to one class and there is a lack of deep bonds being formed while others argue that by using this system, a much broader network of friends is able to be made. Thus it is a challenge of Breadth vs. Depth. This system also gives the teachers time to prepare for the next lesson and thus be ready to teach upon students arrival. However some students will tend to arrive late due to venue changes or other "hindrances". This teaches the students discipline and how important it is to be connected. 

Lastly, at Punahou, students interact very differently with their teachers. They have a sense of being that more of a slightly lower subordinate rather than teacher and student, the line drawn is made thinner and this is both good and bad. It is good that teachers are able to understand the students humor and their feelings better, however this also makes it such that the teachers don't receive as much respect as they should be. Often the teacher has to make several calls to the class to get them to calm down.

Overall I believe that there are both pros and cons to both education systems, Singapore (SST) and America (Punahou) and that neither are the better of the 2. Both could learn something from each other and only then may they both become more superior. 

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