Hwa Chong Educator Conferred Inspiring Teacher Award14 Oct 2019
Igniting A Love For The English Language
We extend our heartiest congratulations to Mr Nick Perry (Senior Consultant/English Literature) who has been awarded the Inspiring Teacher of English Award (Junior College Category). This award is a national award for English teachers in Singapore schools that acknowledges teachers who ignite a love for the English language and are effective in helping their students speak and write accurately. It is presented by the Speak Good English Movement and The Straits Times, with support from the Ministry of Education.
Mr Perry’s passion for the subject is driven by his teaching philosophy:
“Firstly, I must state that I am fortunate, or indeed privileged, to teach what is in essence a selected scholarship group of A level Literature students on the college’s well-established Humanities Programme. My approach is, to some extent, modified by the nature of the programme which operates on a lecture/tutorial system, essentially meaning that both classes are combined to form a group of between 50 – 60 students. For an hour, I expect the students to be fully focused, curriculum time is, after all, precious. I fall back on my theatrical experience to fully engage them - I believe a lecture should be similar to a stage performance. As is the case in acting: articulation, pace, energy are all components that should be seamlessly combined to deliver the material. At a time when the image seems to dominate the word, it is important that ever-declining attention spans are shaken and provoked into thinking. In addition to this, I try to employ humour throughout. ‘Employ’ is probably the wrong word, the humour should be an organic part of the lecture which, I am aware at times, drifts inexorably towards stand-up comedy, but this only helps. Having directed many stage comedies, I know the addictive power of laughter – people think naturally when they are relaxed and enjoying the performance, concentration is unforced. On top of which, I try to establish from the very beginning that the lecture theatre itself is a free space open to questions at any time; it is not, and never should be, a one-way process.
Mr Perry’s advice with respect to the teaching of English is as such:
“I would say try to be active with respect to English, don’t simply confine it to the syllabus you teach in your school. Get out there and get involved. There is a lot going on in Singapore, from theatre groups to slam poetry, book launches to authors’ talks and such involvement invariably enriches your overall appreciation of literature. I mainly gravitate towards theatre having directed seventeen plays (many at SRT’s theatre) and acted in many more. I feel extremely confident in discussing the ‘dramatic presentation’ element of the drama component of the syllabus. The students, I think, respect my experience in this matter. Indeed, it reached its apotheosis when I was on the text selection committee and managed to get Tom Stoppard’s masterpiece, Arcadia onto the syllabus. This was not only a play that I love, I was also fortunate enough to direct the Singapore premiere back in 1998.”
In addition, Mr Chan Kwok Leong (Deputy Principal/Studies) attests to the indelible impact he has made on his students:
Mr Nicholas Perry has been an icon to generations of Humanities students with his enthusiasm for Literature and General Paper, deep subject knowledge and charismatic style of engaging the students. He has a flair for the dramatic and is able to make the world of Literature and the English Language come alive in the classroom. The Hwa Chong Humanities students have consistently been outstanding in Literature, and gone on to impact the literary world in a multitude of ways – a testament to how Nick has inspired and developed his students to their fullest potential in his decades of teaching.
From Left to Right: Ms Low Yen Ling (Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower and Education), Mr Pang Choon How (Principal/ Hwa Chong Institution), Mr Nick Perry, Mr Jason Leow (Chairman of the Speak Good English Campaign)
For further details on the winners of the award, please refer to: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/education/nine-receive-awards-for-being-exceptional-english-teachers
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