Learning at BES
Beijing Enlighten School (BES) is a learning hub where students come to learn through experiential and practical activities while being exposed to real-world problems through a process of inquiry. In the educational realm, as in all fields of inquiry, people give profound importance to what things are and how we can know them. In academic terms, this is the difference between ontological stances and epistemological stances. More simply, the nature of reality versus the nature of knowledge and the ways to acquire it.
We can read and appreciate research studies exploring concepts, empirical work and theories. We can observe leaders talking about the most effective ways to move forward in running a business and developing systems to improve revenue. However, education comes to be as an exciting combination of many fields woven together. It is about connecting with ourselves and re-assessing ways to improve as individuals while learning takes place.
The word education and the verb “to educate” come from the Latin words ex- “out”, and ducere “lead”. Therefore, the meaning of the word reminds us of actions “to lead out” or to “lead forth”. When reflecting upon these terms as a leader in education, the first questions that come to my mind are:
- Why is it important as for me as a leader and as a researcher to reflect on this?
- How can I, as an individual, lead forth generations of learners who come to our school?
To address these two key questions, I am always shifting my reflections to become actions. It is indeed the thinking that drives the actions and then the actions that transform into new thoughts as a never-ending process. Dr Richard Hames defines this as focusing and acting on the “extended now of today” to impact how the future will be shaped tomorrow.
Most importantly, children are at the core of this process, and as individuals, we are responsible for caring about their learning and our own. The first step in allowing students to become life-long learners is through developing a school community that involves students, teachers and parents. All the stakeholders believe and act on learning as a process that is continuously reframing itself based on individual and non-standardised variables.
In our Primary Years at BES, students are encouraged, supported and challenged to find their passions and interests while developing a strong sense of collaboration with others. Students are asked to question everything that surrounds them to become familiar with what the IB promotes as inquiry-based learning. Teachers are facilitators, observers and role-models who are also learning with the students throughout the day. The Primary Years at BES are fundamental in knowing how our personal stories can become part of a collective that welcomes all cultures in sharing a global and international mindset.
Our Middle Years serve as an in-depth exploration of skill sets to practically experience activities inside and outside the classroom of the classroom contexts. Students are asked to perform and to become owners of their learning choices. In doing this, our international and local teachers let students self-assess and diagnose their level of progress while monitoring their personal goals and social interactions. Through the various learning areas, students acquire a sense of rigour and responsibility for skills-development as a whole.
The three pillars of Beijing Enlighten School serve to triangulate interests with a holistic view on education that encompasses Social-Emotional Learning, Digital Literacy and the Arts.
Social-Emotional Learning allows students, teachers and parents to build solid relationships based on trust, confidence and vulnerability at the same time. This is in line with the idea that the limits that we see in ourselves are just mere projections of fears and insecurities. Through a process of awareness and self-acceptance, we then understand that eventually there are no limits to face but only paths to walk with confidence and energy.
Digital Literacy gives students the tools to apply imagination and to be inspired through the use of Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Augmented and Virtual Reality. The possibilities and the skills that young children will have in the future are grounded on how they will be able to look at things differently. Their imagination, empathy and their ability to innovate, will allow them to create and explore new ways of making the world a better place.
The Arts at BES provide a platform to communicate in different ways. Music, Visual Arts, Drama and Dance are embedded in how learners express themselves. Through our learning phases at BES, we see how ensembles allow students to become part of a community that speaks the same universal language. Through Visual Arts, we enable students to depict the world they see and that they feel. Finally, Drama and Dance allow students to explore movement, motion and gestures as ways of manifesting emotions.
With the start of a new journey for Beijing Enlighten School in these challenging times, we remind ourselves that issues are to be faced because of their being mere opportunities for growth. The more agile and flexible we are as individuals in dealing with challenges, the better we become in reshaping our fast-moving contexts.
Our learners at BES are adaptable, dynamic and courageous. They are humanists and caring as well as thinkers and innovators. Through their eyes, we see a shining future because we allow them to show us how they are inspired. We firmly believe that for too long, students have been labelled in standardised terms without having a voice in their learning.
In conclusion, this reflection will not bring any change if it remains just a piece of thinking. Furthermore, action that is not thought by deep consideration will mislead the learner to fields where flowers do not grow. Thought and action, knowledge, and practical change of practices bring that innovation that societies need now.
Our future, as human beings, is dependent on how we inspire the hearts and the minds of those young people who are in front of our very eyes today.