NTU-NIE graduate Farah Ibrahim taught at a Singapore
primary school for two years before heading to the University of
Melbourne last year. She talks to Monster.com.sg about her smooth
switch from teacher to student and her motivations to hit the books
again. She shares with us her teaching experience and offers frank
advice to aspiring teachers and educators.
What you are doing right now?
I'm currently in my 3rd year at the University of Melbourne majoring
in History and Linguistics.
Tell us what you did before going over to Melbourne
After my 'A' levels, I did a 2-year Diploma-in-Education
course at NTU-NIE (Nanyang Technological University - National Institute
of Education). I then taught in a primary school for 2 years after
which, I applied for study leave, got a 2-year loan from MOE and
flew off to pursue a degree at the University of Melbourne.
What do you enjoy most about teaching ?
The knowledge that I'm imparting something of value to the children,
be it in the form of an education (English / Maths) or teaching
them life skills, personal relations, etc.
How does it feel to become a student again?
I did not have any problems going back to school probably because
I only taught for 2 years before deciding to do my degree. Furthermore,
as I was looking forward to getting a degree, I was very motivated.
It also helps that the education environment in Australia differs
from that in Singapore, which is very much exam-oriented. Most of
the subjects are assignment-based. As such, I get to do research
on areas / topics / issues that are of interest to me. It makes
it more worthwhile and meaningful and I find myself gaining more
knowledge than I would have had if I had done my degree back in
How have you coped with hitting the books?
Pretty easy. It was not difficult to get back to 'study mode'. I
study best in the mornings and at night, thus, I make sure that
I do most of my readings (for tutorials or assignments) or revision
during those times. I also make sure that I balance work and play.
What made you decide to study in Australia?
To get away from the Singapore education system which is highly
stressful and it also helped that the University of Melbourne recognizes
the Teaching Diploma given by NTU-NIE and offers a direct entry
into the 2nd year to teachers from Singapore.
What advice would you give someone who is interested in
pursuing a teaching career?
One must be genuinely interested in children and teenagers, in helping
them grow into mature and sensible people. It is not enough to stand
in front of a class and pass on your knowledge or expertise on a
particular subject matter. You must also be passionate about your
work and be able to exude the right attitude and enthusiasm. Children
/ teenagers respond well if they know that you not only love your
work, but that you are interested in sharing your knowledge with
You must be able to cope with the tonnes of marking, meetings, courses,
and other forms of administrative work. You must also be prepared
to be a surrogate mother / father or a friend to these youngsters.
You not only teach, but you also discipline encourage, motivate
and spur them on. You need lots of patience and it is a lot of hard
work but it is satisfying when you see an improvement be it in their
school work or their character. Join the profession only when you're
prepared to do all the above, otherwise, don't, as you'll feel disillusioned
if things do not go your way.
Can you summarise your work philosophy in a sentence?
Study smart... It's not the quantity but the quality that counts.
Thank you, Farah.