Mr Sean Liu discovered an enthusiasm for lifelong learning that took him back to school for a Master of Arts in Educational Management.
Mr Sean Liu was an educator when he had an epiphany that would change the course of his career – and eventually, direct him towards graduate school.
“While teaching is rewarding and very fulfilling, I realised that there are some things at the institutional level that limit the ability and impact of teaching,” he said, adding that schools can sometimes be too focused on examination pass rates and graduation rates. “The student may not actually be learning but simply studying to pass an exam. While you can try and change that in your classroom, you cannot control what goes on outside of your classroom.”
Then a lecturer in a private education institution in Singapore, Mr Liu decided to transition into institutional management, joining the Strategic Planning and Academic Quality department of the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NIE NTU, Singapore).
GETTING HIMSELF FUTURE-READY
At NIE, Mr Liu’s reporting officer was Associate Professor David Ng, who was writing a paper titled Future-ready Learners: Learning, Lifework, Living and Habits of Practice. The paper focuses on the social, economic and environmental trends in Singapore over the next 10 to 20 years.
“We looked at the various dimensions of education to come up with six habits for a future-ready learner who can thrive in the wake of the fourth Industrial Revolution,” said Mr Liu. “Two of these habits involve lifelong learning.”
While working on the paper with Assoc Prof Ng, Mr Liu was inspired to take a real-life approach to his research by going for further studies himself. He enrolled in NIE’s Master of Arts (Educational Management) programme in January 2020, graduating in December the following year.
“NIE is the go-to institution for education and educational research in the region,” he said. “The affordability, the quality and the academic freedom drew me to NIE.”
NIE is home to a suite of Masters programmes by coursework or research. Not just limited to school teachers, these programmes are suitable for educators and professionals who work in educational settings as well. On top of Master of Arts programmes, NIE offers Master of Science and Master of Education programmes.
Besides his own desire to learn more, Mr Liu cites the support of Assoc Prof Ng as a reason for his decision to do his Masters at NIE. “He encouraged me from my first day of joining NIE to think about my professional development goals and plans.”
NURTURED AS A LEARNER
For Mr Liu, who continued his day job while studying part-time for his Masters, working and studying on the same campus helped with shortening his daily commute, though the time commitment was still substantial.
Thankfully, NIE’s conducive learning environment helped him to power through. “NIE is really a nurturing institution, and Assoc Prof Ng and my colleagues have been very supportive. I was fortunate that most of the courses I took were taught by truly passionate professors, who are there not just to teach but to inspire as well.”
Mr Liu added: “I relished the academic discourses with my professors. I always looked forward to having those conversations and learning as much as possible from their wealth of knowledge.”
One of his favourite modules was Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Contemporary Theories in Educational Policy, taught by Assoc Prof Jude Chua. Mr Liu, who minored in modern and post-modern philosophy while doing his Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies and English Literature in Australia, enjoyed reading some familiar authors.
“Going through this course has also allowed me to articulate what I have always believed about education, with more academic backing,” he recounted. “I believe that with education, one is able to self-actualise, to live and be free. As the ancient Greeks – such as Plato and Aristotle – put it, through education, we can develop ourselves to the fullest and be excellent.”
THE NEXT STEP OF HIS LIFELONG LEARNING JOURNEY
Mr Liu, who has since been promoted to his current role as assistant head of academic quality in the same department, said that he has been able to apply knowledge from the Master of Arts programme to his job. “I am able to think about the research questions at work and come up with better, more detailed analyses and insights for our findings.”
Mr Liu is now considering doing his PhD with NIE, so that he can continue researching topics of interest.
“Since I was an undergraduate, my life’s motto has been: For love, for life, for liberty,” reflected Mr Liu. “I have devoted myself and my career to be better equipped at helping myself and others to achieve this life and liberty.”
To other aspiring Master of Arts students, he advised: “Don’t get caught up with rankings and grades – I didn’t. I just wanted to gain as much knowledge as possible.”
Source: Channel NewsAsia © Mediacorp Pte Ltd. All rights reserved