Happy New Year!
Jared Bildfell is a Physical Education teacher at the Singapore American School.
Where are you from? Where have you lived? How did you end up on the tropical island of Singapore?
I’m from the small town of Foam Lake, Saskatchewan in Canada. 1,200 people. From there I went to University in both Regina and Saskatoon before taking my first teaching job in Ghana, in the city of Accra. From there to New Zealand and then back to Saskatchewan for ten years to play music and teach. I went on to Malaysia for two years before coming to Singapore through a connection of a good friend who taught at the Singapore American School, where I’ve now been for the past three and a half years.
What do you like about Singapore? What kind of hobbies do you enjoy?
I think what I’ve been surprised about most is being able to get involved with so much stuff. It’s always been my way – getting involved with hockey, volleyball, basketball, cross fit. And also music has been a big part of my life forever. The ability to play in a band with other teachers at the school, called The Cans, has been a great opportunity for me to get out and meet people. So what I think I like about the island is that as much as it’s a foreign place it still feels very much like home and has a community feeling. It’s easy to live here.
Tonight we celebrate New Years! Tell us about your plans for 2015. Do you have a New Years resolution?
I’m currently in Costa Rica for the holidays, but really looking forward to furthering my involvement in Singapore in terms of my own exercise, music and teaching. As far as New Years resolutions I’m not a big fan of those. I just continue to live my life the way I want to. For the most part I definitely want to stay involved with a lot of the service programs at the school, with Classroom Without Walls, getting more involved with Pandoo Nation and sort of selling this global service idea.
You mentioned that your first teaching job was in Ghana. What did you learn from living in Africa?
It’s really hard to explain it unless you’ve lived there, unless you’ve breathed the air. Africa is like the beginning of time. It’s crazy how different you feel when you’re there. Being a young person, it was my first job so I was only 23 years old, I don’t know if I appreciated it as much as I would now. But the opportunity to live in a new culture; to be a minority for the first time in my life; to see the amount of poverty in the country, yet the amount of happiness in the country — it was very much a world education. Africa is an amazing place.
As a Physical Education teacher your students learn a lot through play. How do you find that they respond to that? How do you find the impact to be different from the traditional classroom experience?
With our PE program at Singapore American School, our whole philosophy is social involvement. Physical Education class is the best place to teach social responsibility with kids. They have to be good sports. They have to play by the rules. They have to interact with each other. They have to find ways to get along, whether they’re friends or completely different people. The in-game situations require them to get along and get through things. Sportsmanship is massive. Honesty, integrity and character are massive. These are all things we hit on in PE because it’s the best place to do it. We take advantage of that in our program and we really focus it in terms of how we assess the kids, how they play and how we deliver our program. Everything is geared around this social aspect.
What kind of impact do you believe Pandoo Nation could potentially have on education?
As a Classroom Without Walls coordinator at SAS, I see that kids want to get involved but a lot of times don’t know how. This platform gives them an opportunity to hit on their interests and yet find a way to become socially responsible through that game. So it hits on their interest of playing, interacting and meeting new people online, but it also gives them an opportunity to directly help others. As an educator, it seemed like a perfect way for kids to serve others through play.