Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Education, Innovation, Talents: Conference in Beijing. Part Two

Resumé from Part One
The High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China arranged a conference in Beijing as part of the school’s 60th Anniversary celebrations under the title: Education, Innovation, Talents: Common Focus in a Multinational Context.  The international forum, held  at the Beijing Friendship Palace conference centre in August 2010, was attended by 200 teachers from the school, 250 principals from Beijing, Shanghai and numerous provincial towns and cities, and 50 speakers from Asian and Western schools and universities. I was honoured to be invited to speak at the conference on the theme: Promoting Intercultural Dialogue through Performing Arts.

Vice Principal Zhai Xiaoning introduced the dignitaries, who included senior members of the Chinese Ministry of Education and other government figures, and leading figures of the city of Beijing. 
Photo: the platform party for the opening session, including senior figures in education  from the city of Beijing and the national government.

There were  numerous excellent  presentations by Western and Asian principals, and  I  hope the speakers will forgive these  briefest of summaries. I would highlight the following:
The Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology, Washington DC., the first high school in USA to send a satellite into space, where students and parents built and installed a solar power system on the school roof and students are encouraged to take up research projects which local companies have passed on when they do not have the resources to continue their development.  Students carry out supervised science experiments in the environment off site and are allowed 15% of their week on individual projects: http://www.tjhsst.edu/
Daewon Middle School, Korea, where students spend up to 5 hours each evening in the study hall doing private study and where a record number of students achieved 100% scores in last year’s College Board SAT tests:  http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3933648923000670711#
Raffles Institution in Singapore, whose Principal spoke eloquently of the need to develop the whole person and to train students to approach the world with a global vision. The school has  an experiential learning camp on its own out of town premises and has implemented  a dedicated Leadership Training course built into the curriculum:   http://www.ri.edu.sg/ & http://www.ri.edu.sg/main/rafflesprog/studentdev
Trinity Grammar School in Sydney, Australia, which has its own activity centre in the outback where all Year 9 students spend a month without contact with home:  http://www.trinity.nsw.edu.au/
Punahou School in Hawai, whose most famous alumni is President Barrack Obama, where IT partners include Apple, IBM, Cisco Systems and Stanford University:  http://www.punahou.edu/
Shanghai Experimental School, where every lesson is filmed by permanently mounted cameras in all classrooms and all teachers are encouraged to complete on-line lesson observation forms anonymously. 500,000 observations have been generated on the school intranet. The school  aims to provide “Individualised teaching in accordance with students’ aptitude and to free up children’s instincts”:  http://www.pudong-edu.sh.cn/Web/PD/45196.htm

Photo: slides from the Shanghai school Principal's presentation.

Georgetown Day School, Washington DC, was founded as a racially  integrated school in 1945, and curently students from socially less privileged neighbourhoods are given scholarships to achieve a constant racial mix: http://www.gds.org/
Hana Academy in South Korea, a new school funded by the Hana Financial Group, which has excellent facilities and a growing intake with a multi-language focus:  http://eng.hana.hs.kr/
Mahidol Wittayanusorn School in Thailand, where, in addition to all other curriculum requirements, students are expect to read and comment on 50 books per year:  http://www.yishunjc.moe.edu.sg/
La Salle College in Hong Kong, a private Roman Catholic school with a particular emphasis on community service and social action:  http://stu.lasalle.edu.hk/
 Photo: the Principals of the La Salle College, Hong kong and  & Li Jing, organizing committee  leader, with this writer.

Ferdinand Porsche Gymnasium, Stuttgart, Germany, an inner city school which has a multi-cultural student body, has long standing arrangements for work experience with engineering companies including Porsche. In Germany, it is a requirement of government inspections to show evidence of partnerships with outside organisations, companies or institutions:  www.fpgz.de
Phillips Exeter Academy, USA, which follows the Harkness Discovery Teaching method and has an average class size of 12: http://www.exeter.edu/
Ressu Upper School, Finland, in common with all schools in the country, enjoys maximum autonomy in curriculum planning, and where student voice is involved in all major decisions in the school life. Ressu is an IB school.
Public school board of the district of Tarrytowns, USA, is working with the City University of New York Education department to improve teaching and learning in maths. Tarrytown is famous as the setting for the well known story Sleepy Hollow.
Conclusion:
My first contact with the High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China was at a conference in London when I met Vice Principal Zhai Xiaoning. It was clear from his description and from watching his dvd of the school’s achievements that this was an exceptional school in every way.
I am pleased to have been able to play a part in arranging for students  from the High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China to visit Spain each year since 2008, and I was happy to accompany a group of Spanish students to Beijing when they were hosted by Renmin school families in November 2008.
I would like to repeat my thanks to Madame Liu for her invitation to attend the conference, and congratulate her and the planning committee for their impeccable organisation.
May the school enjoy equal success, and more, during the coming 60 years.

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