They say there’s no “shortcut” to success. And we completely agree. When it comes to achieving any goal – be it in school or the office, sheer hard work, determination, and willpower will get you going to achieve all your goals. However, hard work also comes from applying the right tools.
For instance, if you use a screwdriver to open a bolt, it won’t get you anywhere no matter how much you work hard. Sadly, our education system has been teaching science to students in a similar fashion.
While rote memorisation and rigorous quizzing are some of the tools that get the job done, they aren’t designed to open the true potential of a child’s mind.
That’s the gap Heuristics Science founder Linda Koh first noticed when she started her career as an educator. Linda believes that there can’t be shortcuts to learning science and it requires a deeper understanding and the ability to think logically and critically.
This led to the development of her acclaimed TCR teaching method – a three-step train of thought process to stimulate students and allow them to systematically work out comprehensive answers.
As Head of Department in Information and Technology with the Ministry of Education to the birth of Heuristics Science, Linda Koh’s method to teach science has seen results with at least 98 percent of her students scoring an A in the PSLE examination.
That’s an enviable track record we’d say.
With Heuristics Science, founded in 2018, the educator and author of three bestselling science assessment books, wants to reach out to more primary school students.
theAsianparent had a chance to catch up with Linda Koh and understand why her technique is a catalyst in the education world and what she aims to achieve with her innovative tuition centre.
Getting To Know Linda Koh And Heuristics Science
Image courtesy: Linda Koh
TAP: What was the motivation behind Heuristics Science that you founded in 2018?
Linda: Throughout my teaching experience, I have witnessed the perpetual problem parents and students face when it comes to answering science application questions.
Determined to bridge the knowledge gap, I began finding ways to equip parents and students with an ecosystem to complement science learning for students to excel in exams, which led to the birth of Heuristics Science.
TAP: What were the initial challenges you faced in the education industry?
Linda: Being new to the private education industry, the initial challenges were recognition and trust from the general public.
Parents are generally cautious when it comes to putting their child’s education into a teacher’s hand. This is overcome by years of engaging parents via Facebook Live and teaching videos.
Teaching Science The Way It Should Be – Beyond Worksheets
TAP: How do you wish to revamp the current education system?
Linda: The main objective is to educate parents and empower students to learn beyond textbooks and worksheets. It is vital for students to understand the question and enhance their problem-solving skills.
This can only be solved by acquiring a deeper understanding of a particular subject.
The main objective of empowering students is also in line with Heuristics Science’s vision to cultivate the love of science in the young generation.
With a growing passion for science, students will be more open and motivated to dive deeper and gain more knowledge on the subject.
Cracking The PSLE Bar For The Distinction Score
Image courtesy: Linda Koh
TAP: We’ve heard that your students score quite high on PSLE. How so?
Linda: Heuristics Science has 98 percent A and A* (Distinction) every year. Of which, 30 percent are A stars.
Based on the Singapore National Average, only 40-42 per cent of students achieve A and A* in the Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE).
TAP: What more has to be done in educating young children about Science?
Linda: I advocate the applications of science in our everyday’s life. This has also been the direction the Ministry of Education (MOE) has been vying towards.
My top tips for parents will be “Science is everywhere! It’s beyond the textbooks and worksheets!”
TAP: What’s your opinion on why Singapore’s students are excelling in Science and Mathematics based on results shared by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA)?
Linda: Our Singapore education system has been evolving to keep our syllabus current and relevant. At the same time, we expose our students to a wide myriad of application questions.
TAP: What are your thoughts on the new PSLE scoring system?
Linda: A lot of parents are concerned about the AL grading system. We have held numerous talks on it. One of the key success factors will be the mastery of the subject itself.
This will move students out of the AL6 range to achieve higher AL grades.
Top Tips To Score Well In PSLE Tests
TAP: How do you get your students to score well on the PSLE exam?
Linda: The Science papers are segmented into content knowledge, applications and Answering techniques in order of difficulty levels.
What most students lack practice and exposure to is the Answering technique required to do well.
The TCR Science Answering technique we teach is a helpful method in aiding thousands of students to excel.
I would advise students that studying for the PSLE’s is not about grinding loads of past year papers. However, it is the consolidation of concepts, identifying your area of weakness and sharpening your answering technique in Science.
Mastering all these will most likely bring students to distinction – AL1 or AL2.
Getting To Know The Educator And The Mum
Image courtesy: Linda Koh
TAP: What’s a typical day like for you on a weekday?
Linda: Typically, I teach three classes a day during the weekdays and four classes a day during the weekends. This is on top of me waking up every morning at 7 am to do household chores, mark and prepare curriculum by 10 am and zoom meetings with colleagues.
TAP: What do you do on weekends?
Linda: I enjoy whipping up sumptuous meals for the family over the weekends with my husband and son. I make it a point to spend time with them despite my busy schedule teaching on weekends.
TAP: How do you balance your many roles as a woman, mother, spouse, and professional?
Linda: Leverage is the key to success. It is important to remember that you cannot handle everything on your own. Do not be afraid to seek to help and reach out to family, friends or partners when in need.
Spending time with family and involving them in the business is also key for me to balance my roles. In this way, family members gain a better understanding of my day-to-day activities and are always able to lend support.
TAP: What’s your secret to success?
Linda: Do what you love and you will probably not need work again. For me, imparting knowledge and sharing the love of science with the younger generation gives me the motivation to ‘work’ every day.
TAP: What has been the most significant barrier you’ve faced as a woman or as a mother?
Linda: The most significant barrier I faced was being a mother and a homemaker during the formative years of my son.
There were many periods where self-doubt and a lack of confidence crept in as I embarked on my journey as an entrepreneur.
Image courtesy: Linda Koh
TAP: Who inspires you, and why?
Linda: Jack (name changed) was a dyslexic and dysgraphic boy when I taught him. In fact, I was afraid that he might not pass his exams due to his challenges in acquiring knowledge.
His efforts and hard work paid off, as he received an A* in his PSLE examinations. This was a sweet victory for him and an inspiring story for me.
I had to ‘verify’ his results with my own eyes after seeing such a drastic improvement. Such rewards are intangible and have inspired me to strive on the path I have chosen.
TAP: What’s your personal advice to mums balancing their careers and a family?
Linda: A woman plays multiple roles in her family and career. Success in public does not equal private success. Hence it’s paramount to get your spouse and children to undertake this journey together.
Success is a byproduct of you emanating your passion, happiness, and support from your family.
A woman is not defined by what they have achieved only within the household. In our evolving modern society, it is vital for mothers to have the courage to step out of their comfort zone whenever possible. Excelling in your career not only brings back the beacon but allows you the opportunity to identify your self-worth.
TAP: What kind of future do you envision for your kid?
Linda: A future where he can find his passion and pursuit. What I leave him is a paradoxical legacy of perseverance, pragmatism and dream chasing.