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    Cherishing CHERI: How Our Education Research Institute Regularly Enhances YCIS Curriculum


    18 Nov, 2016

    10 : 00

    • As part of YCIS's commitment to providing progressive education and curriculum, the educational foundation partners with the Chor Hang Educational Research Insitute, or CHERI, in Hong Kong to regularly review teaching practices and curriculum. Recently, Senior Fellow of CHERI Rebecca Maxwell visited the YCIS Beijing campus to meet with leadership and staff regarding the continued development and enhancement of the school's curriculum.

      Please introduce yourself.

      My name is Rebecca Maxwell. Originally from Australia, I have over 27 years of experience in various teaching and education roles, including principalships in Australia, Hong Kong, and Jordan as well as other various leadership roles in Australia, Papua New Guinea, and the UAE. I have served as the Senior Fellow at the Chor Hang Educational Research Institute (CHERI) since May of 2016.

      Please introduce the Chor Hang Educational Research Institute (CHERI) as well as how the Institute assists YCIS schools.

      CHERI is focused on supporting the work of the Yew Chung Education Foundation through:

      • Innovation and Application: researching new educational trends and supporting schools as they explore and implement these through action research and or targeted professional learning.
      • Curriculum Development: working in partnership with schools in the development and implementation of curriculum ensuring that the curriculum has a sound research base.
      • Capacity Building: working in partnership with schools to provide professional learning to individuals and or learning communities.

      CHERI focuses on helping to improve YCIS curriculum and the current focus is the development of Physical Education and Health, The Arts, Creative Technologies (previously ICT and Design), and libraries.

      What resources, materials, and experts does CHERI draw on to improve the YCIS curriculum?

      In developing curriculum we work with the following resources:

      • YCIS teachers who have knowledge of the current school practices and needs
      • YCIS experts in specific curricula areas, i.e. specialists teachers
      • Curricula programs from around the world. We identify exemplars of curriculum programs from across the world, review the documents, identify the most appropriate programs, and ensure that they match the YCEF philosophy and YCIS school contexts. This is quite a rigorous process aimed at ensuring quality and appropriateness.
      • CHERI collates research relevant to each curricula area and ensures that the teacher practitioners who participate in the development process are current in relation to educational research, pedagogical practices, and current electronic technologies and processes.

      Parallel to this curriculum development is the renovation of many school learning environments. Can you talk more about the most recent projects? 

      There is a significant body of research in recent years surrounding the importance of the physical environment as a contributing factor to the overall learning environment.  The traditional rows of desks no longer match the learning style of students and the traditional content-heavy delivery of facts no longer matches the research around how students learn with appropriate and engaging pedagogies.  Therefore, schools are exploring ways and means of creating learning environments which enable students to engage with information through teachers, each other, and other resources to create new knowledge and new learning.  YCIS Beijing is leading this through their work in the Year 3 Learning Community. Other schools, such as the YCIS Primary School in Hong Kong and some Early Years schools are exploring the development of learning communities amongst children, teachers, and, ultimately, the wider community.

      What are the other important aspects of the work of CHERI?

      One thing that we focus on is building relationships with international universities to conduct research projects in our schools.  These partnerships provide opportunities for our school to engage in innovation through research as well as the chance for us to look at our current practices, understand how and why they are successful, and then share our learning with the wider academic community. We are currently working in partnership with the University of Illinois to explore our pedagogical practices in our Early Childhood Education centers in Hong Kong and Shanghai as well as with Deakin University to explore music.

      What are some of the unique benefits and challenges of working with such a large network of schools?

      One of the greatest challenges is also one of the greatest assets of the Yew Chung schools.  We have a wide range of teachers from all over the world who bring an incredible skill set to our schools.  The challenges is in creating opportunities, like we have had here over the last two days, where we can get these amazing people in the one room to work together.  The travel alone to arrange these meetings is significant.  But what we can do when we get them together results in programs of excellence which depth the work of our teachers and ultimately the learning achieved by our students.

      What sets YCIS curriculum apart from the curriculum of other schools?

      The YCIS curriculum goes through a rigorous development process which ensures that the end product matches the needs of our schools.  This process empowers teachers and educators to then go back into schools as leaders and experts in these areas.  The consistency of this curriculum across the YCIS is a focus of our future work and is what makes us unique.  Each school is not in this alone; we are part of a team of diverse educators all working together to provide the best for our students.

      What specific future projects or initiatives are planned to further improve the school curriculum?

      As we finish this curriculum development phase, we will launch into a review process.  This process will ensure that all elements of our curriculum align and support each other.  In part, it will focus on creating more opportunities for teachers to work together, but it will also focus on connecting the curriculum to current developments so that it is responsive to the wider global learning community.