“Be the change you want to see in the world.” – M. Gandhi

This phrase took on a whole new meaning for our Grade 4 students.

In Singapore, we pride ourselves to be expert problem-solvers, equipped with the skills, rigour and values required to delve into the depths of a problem to search for the luminescence at the end of the tunnel. And we get there.

We are definitely problem-solvers. But are we problem-finders?

We will definitely be capable of solving the problems of the future, but we would have to depend on others to identify the problems first. As such, in the larger picture of things, we will always be followers, never leaders.

Change starts from seeing areas that need change in the first place. The lens of purposeful observation is often given up for the sake of skills-based mastery. How many times have students just stopped to look for themselves at the lingering issues within our society, instead of being told about them from books and newspapers?

But looking for problems is not part of the curriculum, learning about them is.”

So let’s make looking part of the curriculum as much as learning is.

Students were inspired by the story of Craig Keilburger, just 12 years old when he saw the problem of international child labour through the murder of Pakistani child labour victim and activist Iqbal Masih, and decided to make a difference by setting up “Free the Children”, a charity organisation that seeks to end global child labour:

Seeing the problem. That’s the first step in the changemaker’s journey.

Armed with the thinking lens of “See, Think, Wonder” (See Harvard Project Zero’s “Thinking Routines” – http://www.visiblethinkingpz.com), caps and clipboards, students ventured forth into their neighbourhood at Tampines West, seeing areas where change is needed which they will formulate a research question around.

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These areas of changes are not just limited to tangible aspects such as litter, as students soon found out, but abstract, unseen ones as well. One adventurous student began to conduct her own interviews with residents on their level of happiness living in their neighbourhood.

Once students caught on to this change in paradigm, there was no stopping them! They flocked to passers-by, eager to inquire into areas that change is needed: first two or three, then like bees to honey, they swarmed.

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A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Follow us in our quest to ignite change in our community through social research, as we bloom for others where we are planted!

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