Related News

Home » Feature » Education

The school campus where learning is everything

SHANGHAI United International School's Shang Yin North American Campus, tucked away in Shanghai's Minhang District "is a learning-focused school" says its Western head, Richard Eaton. What exactly this means takes some explaining.

In one of his best-known works, "Hamlet," William Shakespeare penned the line, "The play's the thing." In the story, Hamlet has the mysterious demise of his father reenacted and watches the reactions of those in the audience to determine who might have been responsible for his father's death. The plot is timeless, a young person creatively seeking and eventually finding answers to some of life's toughest questions.

What does this have to do with SUIS Shang Yin? It's actually quite simple. The campus prides itself on helping students find their own answers to challenging life questions. The result is a holistic, bilingual learning experience that, like one of Shakespeare's works, stands the test of time.

Shang Yin's learning focus starts with its bilingual, bicultural dimension. Students learn both English and Chinese, not only as languages, but as cultural communication tools. The English curriculum is taught using Storytown, a progressive curriculum designed to support students who have differentiated language-learning needs. It helps students learn not only to speak, read and write in English, but also to think, act and serve the community.

Meanwhile, the school's local Chinese curriculum, says Eaton's Chinese co-principal, Spring Shi, "Offers learners the unique opportunity of studying Chinese alongside native speakers, which makes the experience much more authentic."

The school also offers foundation-level courses in both languages for students with limited abilities, as well as facilitating a special Japanese language course for Japanese nationals. Shang Yin is also a popular school for Korean families, as it offers Korean liaison services and holds students to high academic and behavioral standards, which Asian families appreciate.

While for Chinese mainland, the opportunity to stay close to home and have all the benefits of a high quality international education is something special (students do not need foreign passports to be accepted to the Shang Yin School).

Each month in the school's assemblies, stars are awarded to students who have made learning progress, and purple flags are presented to classes that have aspired to meet the expectations of the school's learning profile.

Purple is the school's official color, as it is a mixture of red, the color of the Chinese flag, and blue, the color of the SUIS logo. Thus, purple represents Shang Yin's fusion of local and organizational spirit. Speaking of spirit, Eaton challenged students to read 1,000 books this term. When they accomplished the feat, he dyed his hair and beard purple. "There are no limits to learning in our school," he added.

A school garden that each class looks after on a rotating basis and the school's requirement that each grade level organizes a service-oriented field trip once a year support his thesis.

So too does the school's choice of IPC, or the International Primary Curriculum, to deliver its science and humanities curriculum. The IPC sets high international standards for learning in the sciences and humanities, as well as providing teachers with the tools to link the curriculum's learning themes to art, music, physical education and IT, the specialist subjects at Shang Yin. The IPC promises to deliver "great learning and great fun." It also facilitates international-mindedness through specially built-in learning targets.

Making good on the IPC's promises and facilitating its international approach requires teachers who are open-minded and can deliver the curriculum's thematic, enquiry-based units. Former Shang Yin parent association chairperson, Katherine Zhu, notes that the Shang Yin's "teachers are well motivated, and we can feel their passion for the job."

Combine this passion with the school's internal training program, which features a wide range of training led by teachers, for teachers and you get a creative mix that makes learning contagious. As SUIS's chief inspector Roger Morgan put it, "the school is a happy place," and, as we found, a great place for both children and adults to learn. "There is a culture of learning here," says Eaton.

So if you're looking for learning, and want an Asian friendly, bilingual international school that goes beyond talking the talk, and truly instills children with bicultural understanding, then Shang Yin is for you.

Just don't be surprised by the headmaster's purple hair. But, as Shi concludes, "That's evidence of learning too." This is precisely why it's fair to say that at SUIS Shang Yin, learning is not just the thing, it's everything.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend