environmental education programmes
Singapore has many delights
Singapore has many delights, however experiencing Pulau Ubin and the beauty found at Chek Jawa quickly rose to the top of my recent visit. At the invitation of Vilma D'Rozario, I joined a morning expedition of many families celebrating a holiday, together, in nature. This outing, organized by Cicada Tree Eco-Place was an ideal exploration along the boardwalk that both informed and amazed me about diverse ecosystems-quite beyond my expectations. Of course having children present enhanced my experience. Their observations and questions added to what I noticed and kept me moving at a slower pace, more respectful of the surroundings. From the wild boars that greeted us at the parking lot to the red jellies and red crabs, all through the rocky coastal forest and mangroves, my camera was clicking like crazy. This turned out to be a real walking safari!
Having been invited to Singapore to speak at the Character and Citizenship Education Conference sponsored by the Ministry of Education and the National Institute of Education, visiting Chek Jawa was exceptionally relevant. I would be speaking to educators about values, about civic engagement, about promoting the ideals of a thriving society through student engagement in real world learning. How appropriate for me to include photographs of this local treasure-Pulau Ubin-in my remarks.
Being in a setting where we remember what Singapore was like not that long ago is an ideal place to pause, to notice, and to appreciate our natural environment. I hold this as an essential concept within education for children and adults alike, to have us consider truly essential values, values apparent only by being in the great outdoors, that we can keep and enjoy for generations to come when we become civically engaged. Through times with family and within the school curriculum, children deserve opportunities to be in awe of their natural world, and to know how to preserve our land and seas and all the creatures and critters that call these places home. The seeds of growing environmental stewards happens as children (and their grown-ups) notice the lobster mounds in the mangroves and pause to watch butterflies flit from leaf to leaf.
Thoughts of Singapore will always include this magical place. Many thanks to Cicada Tree Eco-Place for memories and more!
Cathryn Berger Kaye, M.A.
International Service Learning Consultant and Author
Photo credits: Cathryn B. Kaye