Cultivating Cultural Appreciation in Primary School
As a school that strives to integrate itself into the local Beijing community, the Yew Chung International School of Beijing (YCIS Beijing) places great importance on the appreciation and understanding of Chinese culture. Primary School’s China Studies curriculum is a prominent example of the way in which the curriculum implements this philosophy. Below, Chinese Curriculum Coordinator April Peng shares with us how the activities and lessons learned in this weekly class augment students’ studies and enrich students’ experience in China.
Please introduce the Primary School China Studies Programme.
Students in Primary School from Year 2 to Year 6 have one China Studies lesson a week. Topics include Chinese history, arts, geography, traditional festivals, and costumes, to name a few! While there is no dedicated China Studies class in Year 1, we integrate stories and activities from the curriculum throughout various classes.
We also host field trips to various cultural sites around Beijing. From Year 2 to Year 6, we also run hands-on Chinese workshops, inviting specialists to come to school to teach kids how to create their own calligraphy, dough figurines, Chinese kites, and much more!
What is the main focus of these classes?
The major goal of the programme is to engender in students respect and understanding of Chinese culture. Through this understanding, students become more welcoming and respectful towards all cultures. Right along with school’s objectives, this programme aligns with the best of East and West.
What are some of the recent activities that have taken place in Primary School?
We arranged a variety of fun activities for the classes based around the recent Mid-Autumn Festival, including creating rabbit sculptures and decorative lanterns, plus learning the story of the Jade Rabbit and Chang’e. We also recently invited an experienced Beijing Opera actor, who explained to the students the evolution of Beijing Opera through history as well as the art form’s artistic techniques, facial design, and main roles.
What benefits do these classes offer students?
Students really love the lessons because there’s a lot of interesting stories and hands-on work. They learn the culture through doing and are able to create concrete pieces of art, which leads to greater enjoyment of the subject.
Students gain a greater respect for and understanding of China. We believe that because students are living in China, they should understand the local environment. Rather than sectioning them off in a bubble away from the host country, we endeavor to foster in them a respect and love of the culture in which they’re living.
Finally, Chinese language learning is a vital part of the curriculum at YCIS Beijing. However, learning a language is not just about vocabulary and grammar; there’s a very strong culture behind it as well. By teaching students about both together, students are able to learn the language even more effectively.