Holistic approach produces globally-minded citizens
Dr Gary Morrison is the assistant director and head of the international education services at Yew Chung Education Foundation. He helped establish the division when the school introduced courses to prepare students for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma exams in 2000.
What is the philosophy of Yew Chung Education Foundation?
Yew Chung has a holistic educational philosophy which embraces the full integration of the physical, social, spiritual and academic aspects of a child's learning. The ultimate objective is to produce globally-minded citizens.
How does Yew Chung define international education and why does it put such strong emphasis on it?
Many international schools in Hong Kong largely offer their students foreign curricula for foreign qualifications so they can go back to their home countries for further studies. Yew Chung has pioneered a new paradigm in international education. We have brought local elements into the making of decisions. We define an international education through the content and process of education that lead our students to inner transformation as they move from local-mindedness to global-mindedness. The child is affected by our international school culture created by the teaching and learning environment, the administration, and the curriculum that link to character formation in the shaping of a world citizen.
One of our objectives is complete bilingualism. We focus on English and Chinese because they are the key languages of the 21st century. This combination enables our students to operate globally. Great emphasis is put on global education at Yew Chung because of globalisation. For example, when we talk about water shortages, it is not limited to the US state of California; it is a much bigger issue involving global warming and requires global solutions. We have to think in terms of 'one world, one homeland, one planet'. When we develop the educational system, we think of our students in terms of the world they are going to live in and we have to prepare them for that. So we have developed our curriculum and the process and content of our educational system that guide them from here [local], to there [global], thinking globally about their world.
There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that our students have acquired a global perspective. For instance, there was a student in our first IB class in 2000 who had got in from the local school system. The first thing she told me about was of her determination to get into a top university in Hong Kong. By the end of her two years of IB studies at Yew Chung, she had became more open to other opportunities and applied for places in programmes offered by two good overseas universities on top of the local one. She eventually received offers from all three universities and she chose to further her studies overseas. She told me that by studying overseas she would be able to develop more internationally and she would have more to contribute to Hong Kong when she returned.
How does Yew Chung nurture its students to be future responsible global citizens?
We cultivate the global-thinking mindset of our students. As we live in Hong Kong, which is a very Chinese environment, it is important that our students get more outside Hong Kong experience, not just in China. We have developed the World Classroom Programme which has taken them to many cultural regions, including Europe and Africa. The students participate in various community service activities. Groups of our students in the IB Creativity Action Service programme have visited remote areas in Thailand and helped locals build schools and other students have attended the Global Leaders Conferences held in Austria and the United States. There are many different programmes through which we expose our students to global issues to develop their 'world-mindedness'.
How do these extra-curricular experiences help students academically?
Apart from helping cultivate the 'world-mindedness' in our students, they help them academically. For instance, in the admissions to overseas universities, when every candidate has the same outstanding academic achievements, the universities will see what kind of individuals the candidates are and what they have done in their academic life that differentiates them from the rest. Our extra-curricular activities make our students stand out.