The 37-year-old biology teacher at Commonwealth Secondary School has been featured several times for spearheading environmental initiatives there, as well as conducting wildlife rescues for creatures that wander onto its premises.
Tan started studying Life Sciences and specializing in Biomedical Science at the National University of Singapore. As a biology teacher though, his interest in wildlife and ecology was more nurture than nature.
He shares that while he was passionate about topics concerning the human body, his interest was minimal at best when it came to plants and ecology. "Usually it was just, okay, let’s refer to the textbook and see what we can learn about plants. That was my interest level".
He admits though, that a niggling part of him was aware that he was "not doing justice to this part of biology". "Yeah I felt bad. I'm not doing it right. Like, my students will hate plants because the teacher is like that." To improve his knowledge on local biodiversity and see how he could enhance his lessons, Tan attended various National Parks Board (NParks) workshops conducted for students in the school’s Green Club, despite the fact that he wasn’t involved in that CCA at the time.
Inspired by the work of the NParks officers, Tan realized there was a gap in the curriculum. "I think all the while when you teach about food chain, you see the examples [of animals]. Desert fox, rabbit, hare... Why not we have our local ones?"
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