Keystone Magazine - Page 56

Interview Q: Keystone aspires to develop a curriculum rooted in Chinese history, language and culture, and to enable students to graduate as ‘Chinese cultural ambassadors.’ How can a Keystone education accomplish this goal? As the Coordinator of the Chinese Curriculum, where do you plan on starting? A: Conceptually speaking, members of this Keystone family not only agree with, but aspire to practice the five virtues of Confucianism – Compassion (仁 Ren), Justice (义 Yi), Respect (礼 Li), Wisdom (智 Zhi) and Honesty (信 Xin). Also, our students will be immersed in a bilingual (Chinese and English) environment. So we expect our students to have a strong foundation in their mother tongue (which will be Chinese for most students), while at the same time acquire mastery over the English language, and ability to appreciate foreign cultures. This type of environment should equip our graduates with the appropriate skills and understanding to disseminate Chinese culture, should they decide to do so. Our curriculum will also incorporate a Chinese Thread. This thread will include content in Chinese culture, history, morals, and rituals. Our students will learn about and be exposed to the teachings of great ancient Chinese thinkers. We will teach our students poetry, for example, not by having them memorize poems, but by challenging their higher-level thinking skills so as to cultivate their interest in, and understanding and appreciation of the beauty of these Chinese writings. And the subtle temperament, and aesthetic preferences of the writers behind these texts. We will also choose stories for our students that highlight Chinese rituals and moral concepts. Additionally, we will ask our students to keep a record of their own personal development and provide them many opportunities to participate in philanthropic activities. Our students, from a young age, will begin the process of understanding that they are one part of a larger society, which requires their cooperation and help. They will begin to recognize that even if they are successful or accomplished they should never stop helping others. As the curriculum is being developed, you will see that I am a big proponent of our students learning basic principles such as respecting elders and others, and humility. In order for our students to truly grasp these principles, they must penetrate our words and actions. Finally, Keystone’s boarding setting is a great opportunity for students to receive guidance from Chinese and foreign staff. And it is very likely that staff will become role models for our students. Currently, Chinese kids are the “little sunshines” 54 The Keystone Magazine of their respective homes, where they are spoon-fed by their parents and grandparents. This dynamic is causing our children to develop limited and self-centered attitudes. We must recognize that kids are like a plain sheet of paper, and that their perception of what is right and wrong is built on what they see in the actions and words of those around them. So we have to be careful that we are not just telling our children what we believe to be right and wrong, but also acting out what we teach. Q: Keystone’s Chinese curriculum is different from many international schools. In foundation year, and grade 1, Chinese constitutes 70% of class time, while it constitutes 50% of class time in grades 2-5. What is the reasoning behind this allocation? A: The main reason we designed our primary school curriculum this way is because the Chinese language is one of the most difficult languages to learn. This is a widely accepted fact. Achieving literacy in English is relatively easy because the script is phonetic, so as long as you can hear and speak, then you will most likely be