Character education is a relatively new concept in the education world. Yew Chung International School of Beijing explains this educational philosophy
Despite claims of being promoted in various international and local schools, the concept and true results of this educational philosophy are largely unknown or misunderstood by many parents.
The truth is that character education is not a singular process with a singular result; rather, character education, when implemented correctly, can be viewed as influencing every facet of learning. While results don’t show up on pieces of paper, the effects of character education are clearly displayed through the actions and reactions of those whose educations have been molded by it.
What is True Character Education?
Character Education at its core can be understood as the development of a child’s “inner moral compass”. In order to develop said compass, students must be given the opportunity to partake in regular activities that promote certain desirable character traits as well as given a chance to indulge in self-reflection. At YCIS Beijing, Primary school students are exposed to character traits such as responsibility, courage, friendship, and enthusiasm in daily classroom activities set out by their teachers. Each character trait is rotated weekly and is rooted in every lesson plan. Traits are the main focus of weekly assemblies, with students receiving rewards for demonstrating the trait in question. Character traits play a major role in the formation and execution of every lesson plan to ensure that they are not something simply paid lip service but are fully intertwined in a student’s learning.
The Value beyond Classroom Walls
A true character education model must not be limited to a classroom setting. For students to effectively begin to personify the traits that are being instilled in them, they must become involved in the greater community. They are encouraged to take part in projects and witness first-hand the positive effect that these traits can have not only on their own lives, but on the lives of others. YCIS Beijing has enacted various charity endeavors that give students the much-needed chance to utilize the skills that they have been taught in class. One of the more common efforts is fundraising. Each year, students at YCIS Beijing raise thousands of dollars for charities. Examples include the Easter Fundraiser, in which Primary School children raise money for a foster home for orphans with special needs, and read-athons, where students seek donations for reading which go to impoverished Chinese farmers. Students are then invited to visit the charities they’ve supported to see how their donations are used to impact the lives of others.
Secondary students are tasked with spear-heading their own initiatives and to find ways in which they can personally give back to their community. As part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, all students participate in the Creativity, Action, and Service (CAS) programme, which is designed to raise students’ awareness of the needs of their local and global communities. The 2015 – 2016 school year saw a number of fundraising campaigns initiated by Secondary School students, ranging from art auctions and charity galas to fundraising marathons and environmental projects, all aimed at improving the lives of others. The YCIS foundation has also set up its own charity where each school raises money to contribute the building of schools in impoverished or disaster-stricken areas of China.
Creating Global Citizens
International schools are in a unique situation where their student’s perception of the world and their actions are not limited by their location. Students from around the world studying together gives each child an appreciation and understanding of other cultures not found in a traditional school. Combined with the fact that they are not living in their mother country, they are afforded an invaluable opportunity to gain a wholly unique level of compassion and sense of self as part of a global community. This sense of global citizenship is also tied to YCIS Beijing’s unique character education model. The progression of learning the positive effect they can have on their locale community in Primary School to being given the chance to use their skills acquired through education and their Experiencing China and World Classroom experiences to create their own charitable initiatives in Secondary School lets students realize they can make a positive impact no matter where they are in the world.
The Final Results
A truly balanced and effective education model should not only focus on an academically rigorous education but should also seek to mold their students into competent, morally sound, and active members of our global society. Beginning with lessons emphasizing virtuous character traits to developing a positive set of skills and ambitions that will ensure productivity and success in their adult lives, YCIS Beijing’s education model is able to offer students the tools for both high academic achievement and global citizenship.