Our Teaching Philosophy

All Gifted's own teaching philosophy will be crafted by the management, I know that it will be about creating and finding best of breed state-of-the-art technologies to bring great individualized curriculum to students using a unique pedagogy.

The aim is to bring out the best in students through their own natural abilities and comfort zone so that they can have education that are tailor made for them.

Until the team crafts out one, here's sharing mine.

教人教书

This teaching philosophy was written in May 2011, and based on these, I have taught my students, and also hope that as I transfer my knowledge and teaching philosophy to the management team in All Gifted, some of my philosophies will not be lost.

教人教书 I use these four Chinese characters to represent my teaching philosophy.  Literal translation: The first two words mean “teach people” and the last two characters mean “teach books”. 

To me, teaching means more than just conducting a course or covering a syllabus, it means teaching people. When I first started to teach in 2004, I wanted to bring each student’s understanding of any subject I teach and thinking skills to a new level, whether it was innovation theories, or persuasive presentation skills. 

I wanted to ensure students gain something by coming to each class, to build upon their experiences and bring their competencies to the next level, wherever their current level might be. 

Besides just the syllabus, I wanted to ensure I imparted important life skills that most students did not even know they lack.  Skills like thinking on their feet, speaking coherently to top management, researching and working in groups.

教书

I am not choosy with the subjects or courses I get to teach.  In fact, I ask for courses within my knowledge that nobody wants to teach.  I like to add value to the department so that everyone is happy.  As a result, I teach five very different courses: Technology and World Change, Technological Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurial Management, Entrepreneurship and Business Creation, Mergers and Acquisitions and Technological Collaborations.  While all the courses focus on different aspects of businesses, they centre around 3 main themes: innovation, entrepreneurship and management. 

Teaching any subject in a class setting is very challenging these days, because we are constantly competing with external 'voices': Facebook, IM, mobile phones on silence mode, some even slip in ear phones, some just go to sleep.  

So if I just stand in front of the class and talk, which of course is the easiest thing to do, I'll lose all my students to these voices calling out to them. To 'get them back', I have to bring into the classrooms relevant tried and tested industry methods suitable for each course.

Most of these methods are not commonly used in universities.    For example, I included an elevator pitch session in the TE course.  We use the school's elevator every term.  We borrow the Chinese Orchestra’s gong for our gong shows (adapted from Disney) for each of the EM classes. We put our TE would-be entrepreneurs in the Dragon’s Den to pitch for funds to our dragons, SMU graduate-entrepreneurs. 

In the TWC guest seminar, we invited entrepreneurs, inventors and CEOs to tell us about their journeys.  I personally learn best in a fun and interesting environment, so I try to create the same for my students.

教人

Through the course, there are also a set of skills that should be transferred to students. So, I introduced breakout sessions to inculcate good effective research habits and collaborative learning.  I also ‘invented’ in-class presentations, so that students have opportunities to do impromptu presentations in 10 minutes.  Class participation breeds confidence, so to encourage that, I offer lollipops to good questions asked in class.  

Last summer, I introduced a kudos points system in the online forum. These points can be exchanged for anything from iPads to Kate Spade bags on the forum. 

I believe good organization skills are very vital for survival in any line of business.  So I got students to organize the guest seminars every semester.  Student will surprise me every term as things get better and better organized.  

In our last semester, we had pop corns and balloons, ice-cream and healthy wraps.  Yum!  

I encourage my students to be bold and thick-skinned, to learn to network and communicate with high level executives, so I send them to interview CEOs in local companies and top executives in MNCs.  The students are to do video footages of not just their professional but private lives. 

It might seem like a very difficult task to do so many different things for different classes each semester.  I use a little secret: Teaching Assistants.

My TAs are not your usual 'A' students.  They are passionate, dedicated individuals who would do anything to help their juniors learn.  Each semester, I'll look for such passionate individuals who have benefited from our (TA and I) teaching enthusiasm and are ready to pay-it-forward.  For some reasons, the TAs' maturity and passion often rub off the class members.  Because of the corporate learning structure instituted, I don't have to start afresh every term.  Many of my teaching methodologies were suggestions from the TAs. 

To connect with my students technologically, I developed a web page to make my materials and research available to my current students, ex-student-entrepreneurs and industry practitioners free of charge.

I also implemented an online forum for my students to discuss their thoughts and earn class participation marks.  I can understand some students are just too shy to voice out their opinions so the forum becomes an alternative. 

I am beginning to think that teaching has to evolve from a one-way traffic we are used to.  These days, students immediately become experts in the topics I teach, answers can be easily researched, we lecturers are no longer the sole transmitter of information.  

The classroom, to me, cannot be just a place to learn a topic.  It is a place of interaction between student and teacher, student and student, student and the world.  

Subject matter?  Even Wikipedia is becoming more knowledgeable than many teachers, Youtube has more interesting ways of presenting information, and the search engine can yield even more impressive answers.  It is therefore vital for the teacher to ensure that the knowledge found in different places are presented cohesively in the classroom.  

Through the years, I changed my classroom from one that the lecturer teaches exclusively, to one where they learn from themselves, their friends and industry leaders.  

The classroom is a place people connect with a common subject. I believe people cross path for many reasons.  Each student is important to me, so I keep in contact with every student I have ever taught, as often as I can manage. 

I appreciate that students come back to consult me as if my opinion matters.  We discuss their careers, their children’s education, their in-laws problems, contractual problems and their business partnership fallouts. 

The ‘教书’(teach books) responsibility ends every semester once the deliverables are met.  The ‘教人’ (teach people) responsibility fortunately never has to end.

“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.” ~Carl Jung

> Teaching Philosophy