Flying the Flag of Global Citizenship

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Year 6 students dived into their Identity and Perspectives topic this term with a visit from Beijing-based graphic design company Lava. From their pro bono work with small businesses in Beijing’s hutongs, to campaigns for larger international clients, they use bold graphic designs to convey meaning and identity. We speak to Mr Michael Cole, Year 6 Teacher, about the visit.

Please explain the purpose of the Lava visit.

This term, learning is based around the concept of “Identity and Perspectives”. All our teaching for the next few weeks will inform understanding of what this means, and how it can be expressed. In order to kick-start the topic, we invited local design agency Lava Beijing to lead an interactive workshop with our students. Lava seemed like a great choice, because their work is all about distilling culture and identity into images, signs and symbols.


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What did our students do during the workshop?

Two employees at Lava, Nastya and Celine, came up with a brilliant idea to run a flag-designing workshop with students. They had a great amount of knowledge about the history of flag designs, and began their workshop with a fascinating presentation on the meanings behind national flags.

Based on what they had learned, we organised students into groups asked them to design a flag that represented their group – combining elements that united the whole group as well as elements that represented them individually.


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Nastya and Celine have now taken the designs away with them and will be working on digitising them over the next week.

Were there any interesting results from the workshop?

I was interested to discover what students considered to be essential to their sense of identity. Several of them chose food – particularly food from their home country.


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One group chose the Wi-Fi symbol as the element that united the whole group. This was particularly interesting – connectivity is incredibly important for our students as it enables them to communicate with friends and family across the world, as well as get around in an unfamiliar city. Another group filled the letters “YCIS BJ” with the flags of their respective countries. They explained to me that, while they came from every corner of the world, they all belong to one community at school.

What do you hope students got out of this workshop?

This workshop was great practise for articulating why something is of importance to them as individuals, and negotiating with their group on what they felt strongly about including and where they were willing to make compromises. These are important team working skills.

I also hope that the activity encouraged our students to get to know each other better and in different ways – especially as we have some new students joining us this year.

Why do we encourage students to discuss their identity?

As an international school, an exploration of identity and perspectives comes about often quite organically. That said, international school or not, classrooms around the world are becoming ever more diverse and it is an essential aspect of 21st century education to acknowledge this diversity, have the language to discuss it appropriately, and find ways to appreciate and celebrate different world views and cultures. Ultimately, this feeds into our continuous endeavour to raise Global Citizens.

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