Hi Felix Lee, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed. Could you tell us a little about your background and what you do?
I have been in the Education sector for more than 25 years and have been involved in the setting up and success of many International schools before joining HCK. They include REAL International Group, Austin Heights Private and International School and Matrix Global Schools. I am very passionate about changing the mindset in students and parents to learning; that is it all about learning and not about teaching.
I am a recipient of many educational awards including the Brandlaurette Leadership awards, The HR Awards for being the best companies to work for in Asia to name a few, culminating in a Bernama TV interview for having created a unique curriculum for private schools in Malaysia, being it on the national or the International curriculum. I am also a regular Keynote address speaker in the International Conferences including IPSEF (International Private Schools Educational Forum), BETT Asia, EduTech in Singapore and many others.
HCK Capital Group has recently launched its Save Ourselves (S.O.S.) campaign. Could you tell us more about it?
The SOS campaign is the brainchild of the EXCO of HCK Education Division, consisting of Felix Lee, Mr. Jason Bek, our Principal of Peninsula International School Australia and Ms. Katherine Beadle, our Principal of Imperial International School, Ipoh. After hearing the daily briefing of our DG of Health where he had reiterated that our front liners have done their job in keeping COVID 19 at bay, he stressed that the second half of the journey will depend on US until the world finds a vaccine. We, at HCK have therefore taken heed of this advice and in fact have further extended it.
We feel that apart from practicing the SOPs ourselves, the potential end-result of this pandemic might be abated if we assisted in informing others. We also felt it best to empower our children to be the ones educating others as they are our future and that we should allow our future to determine their future. The EXCO then set about to derive a curriculum which doesn’t just educate our children about COVID 19 but also empowers them to educate other children too. Our EXCO aptly created it as a campaign and Mr Felix gave it its name, the S.O.S Campaign – Save Our Selves!
This campaign is broken into a few phases:
Awareness – where activities are designed with the intention of making our children aware of the virus, its consequences, and its implications – right from pre-school onwards.
Implementation – where our children will implement what they have learnt, not only in school but at home as well.
Ambassador – where, as part of our “Empowering our Children” ethos, they will educate others via webinars (originally it was planned for them to visit other pre-schools and primary schools to educate the students there).
How do you plan to help pre-schoolers and older students get familiarised with the new normal?
We are big believers that for students to learn, they must first understand the situation. This is from the adage of “when you say, you will know but when you do, you will understand”. This forms the core of our educational philosophy where we believe that the main task of schools is to provide environments in which students will learn. This is made possible by providing our students various platforms and opportunities for them to explore and immerse themselves into. We believe that once they are immersed in the situation and are practicing it, the understanding will be natural. This is seen when you walk around and hear our preschoolers and 6-year-olds talking about the dangers of this virus and the need to wash their hands!
Why are practical lessons and reasoning with students far more effective tools than merely written guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)?
As mentioned, when one focuses on learning as opposed to teaching, one will realise that “learning” results in understanding whilst teaching merely results in the relay and transfer of information. I am a firm believer that a teacher is not a person who merely relays the information but one who provides the environment in which the student learns. Over the years, I have become a great proponent of experiential learning where students learn by doing. It must always be remembered that we always remember the experiences whilst we are embarking on something.
Similarly, students will always remember the their thoughts, their problems, their revelations and their eventual understanding of the issue once they experience the journey themselves. And once they have experienced it, the memory of the experiences stays with them. Allow me to give you some examples, we got our pre-schoolers to try washing out the glitter dust from their hands and having experienced the difficulties in so doing, we explained that that is what viruses will do and the reasons why we need to wash our hands properly to get them out.
By so doing, the pre-schoolers would experiences the actual difficulty and the rationale for proper hand washing becomes apparent to them. Learning becomes intrinsic in this manner as opposed to merely being told about it. Therefore using the same train of thoughts, we created experiences for all our students by adapting the SOPs into activities including the making of hand sanitisers, experiments with the face masks etc.
What are some lessons from the pandemic will shape the future of education?
The obvious ones are as follows:
What humans have done to mother earth – notice how clean our rivers and air was during the lockdown. This should be used to place importance to all aspects of greening the earth like global warming, air pollution, cleaning our rivers, recycle as opposed to single use plastic. These aspects could be included in our studies programme.
The acceleration of reforms to education – on the use of technology in learning like platforms to host all the lessons, Google Hangouts/Meets and Microsoft teams and Zoom, Google Classrooms as learning management system, teachers re-learning how to present as they now need to “teach” to cyberspace and yet how to remain interactive by syncing their lessons with technology.
The lack of awareness in our students (and at times our teachers) on cyber security like the ability to identify grooming, phishing, setting of firewalls to simple issues of identifying copyrighted materials.
Education is something we at emakayah.com are deeply passionate about. Could you name at least 3 must-read books on education every educator or anyone who works in the education sector should read and why. Feel free to suggest more than 3.
I have actually designed my own training workshop which embodies the methods I mentioned including how to amend their lesson plans to be of an experiential approach or a project based approach. Nonetheless, book I have found interesting to read are as follows:
Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education by Sir Ken Robinson
Using Experience for Learning by David Boud, Ruth Cohen and David Walker
Creativity in Schools: Tensions and Dilemmas by Anna Craft
Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom by Thomas Armstrong
The Fourth Education Revolution: Will Artificial Intelligence Liberate or Infantilise Humanity by Anthony Seldon with Oladimeji Abidoye