All entries for Tuesday 01 February 2022

February 01, 2022

What is your teaching philosophy? – Zhen Wei Chew

My teaching philosophy lies in the importance of a student-centred education and so our role is twofold. At its simplest level we must:

1) develop an interest in the pupil for learning the subject

2) challenge the pupil to think and learn through ideas and problems

These two roles combine to produce an effective educator. An interested pupil with no challenge does not progress and a challenged pupil with no interest will become frustrated. My journey as a teacher so far has been one of seeking to balance these two concepts, continuously developing my own repertoire and teaching methods towards this end.

An interested student

The importance of developing a love of learning a subject in a student is obvious but often overlooked in teaching. This cannot be substituted for them having fun in the lesson or enjoying teacher interactions (though of course these are important in their own right). Instead, we must help them foster personal reasons to enjoy learning about a subject. As an IGCSE student, though I found certain subjects like Geography and PE fun, I now realise that my History teacher had instilled in me a passion for learning about historical figures and eras that made me excited to even write essays! This love of learning about the times before has stayed with me until now. Philpott, summarising Bruner, states that ‘extrinsic rewards are important yet learning will only continue if the rewards become intrinsic, when the pupils are learning because they want to’ (Philpott, 2001: 122). One obvious way to develop this is to include the students’ preferences where possible within the framework of the lesson objective. For example, for my module on The Modern Pop Song for Year 9 students, I asked them to provide their favourite pop song which I listened to and organically added to my plan for the unit. This encouraged them to engage more with the lesson, often being particularly eager to answer questions on their chosen song when it was used.

A challenged student

Challenging the student within the subject is vital both in developing their understanding and, in my particular context, demonstrating that music is worth developing their understanding of. In Malaysia, outside of international schools, music is very rarely part of the secondary curriculum, and when it is offered is often discouraged by parents. Against this backdrop, challenging students in music gives assurance that it is a subject that can be explored critically in its own right and is worthy of academic pursuit. The possibility that I could study music critically was something that only occurred to me when studying Music at A Level, as I had found IGCSE music was quite easy. I discovered that the detail and depth one could find in the different characteristics and contexts of music was very stimulating. As Pitts states ‘emphasis on outcomes other than musical ones risks distorting the place of music in the curriculum, positioning it as an enabler of other kinds of development rather than a valued subject in its own right.’ (Pitt, 2017: 161). The neglected position of music in Malaysia’s education landscape is something I look forward to overcoming one day.


Pitts, S. E. (2017) What is music education for? Understanding and fostering routes into lifelong musical engagement, Music Education Research, 19:2, 160-168

Philpott, C. (2001) Learning to Teach music in The Secondary School. London, RoutledgeFalmer.

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