Approach

At Forest School Singapore, we fervently believe in the importance of community spirit. As the famous saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. We resonate strongly with Singapore’s history of kampungs in the 1950s – 1970s.  Forest School Singapore’s mission is to be the Village that helps to raise the child.

In our village, we believe that children come with their own knowledge and we can mutually learn from one another. In that sense, we refrain very much from telling them what they should do. Instead, we believe in enabling them to explore with their senses and arrive at their own decisions, under our facilitation.

Coaches play an instrumental role in understanding the children, working with them and the community to overcome any personal challenges as well as identify their strengths. We continuously assess whether a child is in the basic, intermediate, advanced, or graduate stage. Facilitation and coaching are our main styles of delivery.

We intentionally raise independent and socially conscious thinkers who will become the next generation of leaders. All aspects of growth and development are covered in Forest School’s holistic and forward-thinking program – Social, Physical, Intellectual, Communication, Emotional and Spiritual.

Forest School cultivates a space that empowers children. Within this space, children are expected to grow competent in all areas – from unconscious incompetence to beyond unconscious competence, in accordance with Burch’s Competence Model. This model is further elaborated in the following section.

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Burch’s Competence Model

One of the Science of Learning Which We Strongly Believe In

Stage 1 – Unconscious Incompetence

This stage is described as “blissful ignorance” where learners are unaware of a skill or knowledge gap.  Learners don’t actually see the need for a particular skill 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 first find themselves in situations where they struggle and realize that there is something that they need to learn. An example of unconscious competence could be when a person may not want to learn how to drive, until they are faced with a situation where they need to drive and they realize that 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, learners start to recognize that they are not very good at certain skills or activities, which could lead to feelings of humiliation and embarrassment. However, acknowledgment of one’s incompetence prods one to improve, train and eventually become competent. It is very tempting for learners to give up when they are at this stage. Hence, learners at this stage need constant encouragement, support, and examples of people who have successfully mastered the skill. Feedback on performance should be given frequently to facilitate improvements in the process.

Stage 3 – Conscious Competence

At this stage, the learner begins the adventure towards utmost competency. A consciously competent individual dedicates himself to the improvement of his skill by undertaking repeated practice, participation, and formal training of the skill. The skill can be practiced but only under conscious effort and attention. One useful technique to move on to the next stage is to teach the skill to another individual.

Stage 4 – Unconscious Competence

As learners build experience and expertise, they reach the stage of unconscious competence where they do not have to think about the activity they’re engaged in. When learners are at this level, engagement in skills looks effortless. The unconsciously competent person can often engage in other activities while engaging in the skill that they are unconsciously competent in. However, this could make it difficult for trainers to identify if their learners are still undergoing stage 1 or 2. Hence, it is important for the trainers to consciously remember to assume the role of learners. One way to do so is by attending a training course and 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. In this fifth stage of competence, not only can learners practice the skills with grace and ease, but they can also step outside of themselves to see what they have done and identify the steps and underlying thought processes. Essentially, they become observers of their own skills.

If you’re keen to learn more about how this approach is conceived, you can read more at our education website: https://forestschooleducationseries.wordpress.com/

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