School has become a cutthroat arena where only the smartest and the most active kids are promised a bright future. Don’t believe it? The best proof is inside their homework notebooks, the contents of their bags, their class schedules, their deadlines, and the amount of activities they do for extra credit.
Today, simply passing all the exams isn’t enough to make sure the kids are able to get into their dream university. For instance, most applications put weight on extracurricular activities like student government, organisations they have joined, and athletic rewards they have garnered. It seems our kids are always pressured to go all out and beyond expectations.
We can see this even in the way we instruct them in their lessons. We put importance on memorisation instead of actual discussion. We grade them according to the number of definitions they can repeat back to us, and we categorise them between who has the highest grading average and then those who are just average.
Success outside of school is not just about academic performance
We forget that learning is not just about a child’s grade point average; it is also about the values inculcated by the school. Their attitudes when they go out to the world as movers shows the values that their home and school has taught them. Ideally, these values should enhance their ability to empathise with others, express their emotions, to practice understanding and active listening, and to share their perspectives with an open mind.
This is where a Singapore international school like the One World International School (OWIS) comes in. In this article, we will explore what the schools calls a “values-based education” and the model they have created to provide a well-rounded education for their students.
The education model of a values-based curriculum
At its core, a values-based education gives importance to the social skills being taught to students, just as much as they do academic subjects.
You may be more familiar with its other name, holistic education. This is a philosophy that aims to produce students who are not just critical thinkers, but who are also socially responsible. Instead of a rigid learning environment, they provide students with a platform to speak their minds and challenges them to apply all that they have learnt to improve society. You would have experienced this if you went to a Montessori school.
But it is a popular philosophy in international schools mainly because of its multicultural nature. Their students, from the first day they stepped into campus, are exposed to an amalgamation of cultures and perspectives. This holistic philosophy and values-based framework teaches them to dissect their lessons, not just memorise them, and discuss their agreements and disagreements in class. They are taught to take in all the differing thoughts, and from there create a rational argument that will either support another person’s opinion, or rebut it.
All of these principles are summarised in One World International School’s education model.
The One World International School Model
One with the world
OWIS wants to nurture a child’s natural propensity to learn. And so they want to provide them with a balanced education that emphasises autonomy, which equips students to become independent, lifelong learners.
Other than the diversity of cultures within the campus, OWIS knows that once their students are working to improve society, they must work hand-in-hand with people from a variety of backgrounds. For this reason, group learning is a learning techniques which cultivates a child’s thinking, creativity, social skills, and contextual understanding. It is the hope of OWIS that the students are able to excel in oral communication and critical thinking through collaboration.
The schools believed that healthy relationships enhances a child’s social and intellectual development. Attributes such as kindness, hospitality, and communication are key to having a deeper understanding of relationships between family members, schoolmates, and ultimately, the world.
More than just encouraging a child’s love for learning, OWIS also wants to allow them to explore a wide range of interest activities and subjects. Through the programs being developed for them, students can discover a love for art, sciences, and vocation. The aim is to lead to pursue further education and to improve their employability.
But more than just enhancing their employment prospects, OWIS wants their students to use their skills and talents in helping the community. Volunteering programs are then organised because it promotes personal growth and greater awareness.
The values OWIS primarily teach students are humility, open-mindedness, and resilience. But the school also wants their students to know their value, their self-worth, and that these should empower them to see the value in other people as well.
In a world where humility and service is fast becoming scarce, we want our kids to grow up contributing to the improvement of society. International schools and Montessori schools had the right idea when they focused on producing students who will listen first and consider their answer before voicing them out. They gave importance to values that teaches kindness to one another regardless of background.
Ultimately, a community that is first and foremost kind and considerate of each other is the kind of community that they will build.