The Approach of Forest School Singapore

At the Forest School Singapore, we believe fervously in the importance of the Village. As the famous saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. With our history of kampungs across Singapore in the 1950s – 1970s, we certainly resonate strongly with that.  Our motto at the Forest Singapore is to be the Village that help to raise the child.

In our village, we believe that children come with their own new knowing and we can mutually learn from one another. In that sense we refrain very much from telling and believe in getting the children to explore their own senses and come up with their decision making, with a safety boundary.

We intentionally raise independent, thinking and socially conscious youths as the next generation of leaders. Especially people who understand what is earth stewardship.

All aspects of growth and development are covered in our holistic forward thinking programme in Forest School including Social, Physical, Intellectual, Communication, Emotional and Spiritual.

We do continual assessment of the children, in mostly qualitative fashion. The coaches play an instrumental role in first of all understanding the child, then working with the child in overcoming any personal challenges as well as identifying the key strengths. The Forest school carries a space that is empowering for the child and within the space the child is expected to grow in terms of competence in all areas from unconscious incompetence to beyond unconscious competence. The theory is elaborated below.

Our classes are mixed age.  The assessment of whether a child is in the basic. Intermediate or advanced/graduate stage in various learning areas, are done by the time the child has been moving independently with the Forest School for six months. Facilitation and coaching are our main style of delivery.

Stage 1 – Unconscious Incompetence

This stage is described as “blissful ignorance” where by learners isn’t aware a skill or knowledge gap exist.  Learners don’t actually see the need for a particular skills and if they do think about it at all, they assume it’s either way beyond them or too easy for them to bother with. To move past this stage, learners need to find themselves in situation whereby they struggle and realize they actually do need to learn something. An example of unconscious competence would be when a person may not want to learn how to drive until they are faced with a situation where they have to learn how to drive.

Stage 2 – Conscious incompetence

Most people view this stage as the most uncomfortable phase as most people are used to feeling a certain level of competence in other spheres of their life. However, at this stage you start to recognize that you are not very good at a certain skills or activity. It can be particularly humiliating and embarrassing for the learner. However, acknowledgement of your incompetence prods you to improve and train and eventually becoming competent. It is very tempting for learners to give up when they are at this stage. Hence learners at this stage needs encouragement, support and practical example of people who have successfully mastered the skill. Feedback on performance should be given frequently to facilitate improvement.

Stage 3 – Conscious competence

In this stage, an individual lodged in the third stage begins the adventure towards utmost competency. A consciously competent individual dedicates themselves in the improvement of their skill by undertaking repeated practice, participation and formal training of the skill. The skill can be practiced but only with a full conscious effort and full attention. One useful technique to move on to the next stage is to teach the skill to another individual.

Stage 4 – Unconscious competence

As you build experience and expertise, you reach the stage of unconscious competence whereby you do not have to think about the activity you are good in. When people are at this level, the skills used look effortless. The unconsciously competent person can often do other things along with the skills. However, this can be dangerous for trainers and it is very easy to forget what is not effortless for them is still in stage 1 or 2 for their learners. Hence learners need to become learners again, perhaps by attending a training course by watching other trainers at work.

Stage 5 – Beyond conscious competence

While it is not included in Burch’s competence model, many are campaigning for the inclusion of the fifth stage. This competence means that not only can the person practice the skills with grace and ease, he/she can also step outside themselves to see what they have done and identify the steps and underlying thought process. They become observers of their own skills.

A Glimpse of the curriculum items previously explored by our children are shown below

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