- Bicultural Studies Programme
- Humanities Programme
- Aesthetics Programme
- Mathematics Programme
- Sciences Programme
- Knowledge Skills Programme
The History teachers employ a diverse range of teaching approaches and methodologies to cater to the different learning needs of our pupils. The History curriculum emphasizes critical thinking through strategies like Hilda Taba’s strategy of concept development, Socratic seminars and Experiential Learning.
1. Hilda Taba’s Concept Development
Hilda Taba’s concept development strategy basically aims to help students construct definitions and meanings on their own. Students have found it difficult to comprehend and explain historical concepts explicitly. They usually describe rather than define the concept. In Dunman High School, history teachers have utilized this strategy to help students comprehend and define historical concepts. By getting students to group key words associated with a particular concept; and after several attempts at refining to come up with logical labels for the groups, teachers would then guide the students into coming up with plausible definitions of the concept. This is a very useful constructivist strategy to engage students in formulating their own understanding. It convinces the students that these definitions are integral in their learning process because they were heavily involved in defining these concepts. This strategy is effective for improving the writing skills of the students. It enables them to adequately understand the logic and links inherent in the concept and so that they can come up with appropriate points to address the historical issues related to the concept.
2. Socratic seminar
Socratic seminars aim to develop critical thinking among the students in Dunman High School. It is largely derived from the Socratic method. The Socratic method, named after the classical Greek philosopher Socrates, is a form of inquiry and debate between individuals with opposing viewpoints based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to illuminate ideas. The Socratic seminar strategy is an improved platform of the Socratic method. Instead of inquiry and debate between individuals, the Socratic seminar is tailored to involve groups of students in debate and discussion as a class. Students are tasked to phrase their points clearly; and clarify and explain how their points support or oppose the hypothesis at hand. Students are divided into pairs (one will be the note taker and the other one will be the participant). They are supposed to engage each other on the points that they raise. The history teacher plays the role of a facilitator and ensure that the seminar is conducted in an orderly manner. The contributions of the students will be recorded and summarized into an argument map. This is a good strategy to compel the students to constantly clarify and re-clarify what they are trying to bring forward. This will stretch the students to consider the issue at hand critically.
3. Classroom experiential learning (Historical Simulation through the use of board games)
Experiential Learning aims to promote active learning in the classroom by engaging the students through interactive platforms. In Dunman High School, students are given the opportunity to ‘re-live’ the past through the use of board games such as Axis & Allies and Diplomacy. These games can recreate specific circumstances of past events and allow students to participate in the ‘shaping’ of history. This will not only incite students to be interested in history, but also to apply the historical concepts and knowledge that they have learnt in the decision-making process of the historical simulations.
The study of Geography centres on humans and the environment around us, and in Dunman High School, the inquiry based learning approach has been aptly adopted as it basically teaches students ‘to have a greater understanding of the world they work, communicate, learn, and live in’ (Teachnology Inc., 2011). The inquiry based learning approach facilitates autonomous learning with the intention that students take ownership of their own learning as they construct their own knowledge through asking and answering geographical questions.
Through experiential learning (by conducting fieldwork and field studies) and authentic performance tasks, students’ thinking is enhanced and sharpened as students attempt to apply critical thinking and analytical skills to understand and solve real-life problems. Therefore the knowledge and skills gained, which are transferable to various situations in the future, will become the students’ assets.
With inquiry based learning as the main approach, students’ learning of Geography in DHS is scaffolded through the use of several student-centred pedagogies such as conducting Socratic seminars, concept-mapping and investigative studies.
Socratic seminars focus on the democratization of knowledge and students take responsibility for their own learning and knowledge advancement. It often takes the form of a discussion where teachers and students are given the opportunities to ask meaningful questions that stimulate the thoughtful interchange of ideas. Students may also play the role as observers of the seminar by recording important points and doing reflections. This activates their meta-cognition and allows them to draw connections with their own personal experiences of the world. Socratic seminars are held for the Population Geography topic in Junior High, and the Senior High topics of Atmospheric processes, hazards and management as well as The Globalisation of Economic Activity. The pedagogy lends itself well to human geography and synoptic units in the curriculum which explore the complex interrelationships between humans and their environment.
Concept mapping involves the use of concepts as anchor points to draw connections among all the concepts to provide a big picture of the topic. The use of concepts and the tool of concept mapping have helped both teachers and learners understand complex relationships and establish the intrinsic linkages between seemingly disparate themes and sub-topics within a curriculum. In the JH and SH Geography curriculum, concept mapping is often used to initiate the unit by getting students to map their preconceptions of the topic. It is also used as a unit close to reconstruct their understanding of the theme through a collaborative effort with the teacher and their peers. Students are thus better able to see the interconnectivity between different concepts and themes.
The DHS Geography learning journey not only focuses on geographical concepts but connects other cross-curricular concepts and skills as well, including the development of desirable attitudes and values like the strive for excellence and the concern for the environment.
Active Citizenry Education
The ACE team in DHS uses Understanding By Design (UbD) as the main curriculum framework to guide students’ exploration of six themes including, (1) Singapore as a Nation in the World, (2) Conflict and Harmony in Multi-Ethnic Societies, (3) Understanding Governance, (4) Sustaining Economic Development, (5) Facing Challenges and (6) Managing International Relations. Each unit is framed with a set of essential questions and students go through a series of lessons and tasks in order to reach an enduring understanding of the topic.
The team employs a diverse range of teaching approaches and methodologies to cater to the different learning needs of our pupils. The ACE curriculum emphasizes critical thinking through Richard Paul’s Elements of Reasoning. Current and controversial issues are presented through different sources, and students attempt to reach a balanced judgment after exploring the topic. Students also partake in Socratic seminars to engage deeper with issues such as Multiple Citizenship and Human Rights and Responsibilities.
The ACE team also attempts to bring the learning back to the individuals’ lived experiences and renewed understanding. Reflection logs, 3-2-1 reflection worksheets and takeaway cards all seek to help the learner consolidate and reconstruct the knowledge learnt throughout the course.
The Economics curriculum at Dunman High School aims to prepare our students not only for the GCE ‘A’ Level examination but establish a firm foundation in the subject in preparation for undergraduate courses in renowned universities. The programme also equips students with a functional understanding of Economics that would enable them to interpret contemporary economic issues such as the 2008 global financial crisis. This means that there is a strong emphasis on theoretical rigour, historical context and real world applications.