Chinese Educators Return to Shore

In a sign of a deepening partnership, a delegation of Chinese educators returned to Shore on October 22 to tour the school, observe classes, and meet with faculty and administrators. The visit followed similar trips to Shore this summer and in fall 2017 by different groups of education leaders from China. As during those visits, the private school principals, teachers, and administrators who toured the school this October were interested in learning more about Shore's use of Harkness-style discussion, experiential and project-based learning, student-centered classroom models, and best practices in the teaching of English.

According to Head of School Clair Ward, the opportunity to share Shore's program with the visitors was valuable for several reasons. "To hear our division heads Sara Knox and Gustavo Carrera explaining what we do was a real moment of pride for the community," Ward explained. "And to see the Chinese educators marvel at our active and student-centered classrooms—from a history discussion around a Harkness table to a design thinking challenge in the iLab—clearly underscored what differentiates teaching and learning at Shore."

The visitors came from HD Schools, a group of private bilingual (English-Mandarin) schools with courses from pre-school to secondary school. With campuses in Beijing, Ningbo, Qingdao, and Shanghai, HD Schools provide a comprehensive program for Chinese families who seek a global education which blends the best of international education philosophy with Chinese curriculum. Harkness-style discussion and project-based learning were two areas in which the visitors were particularly interested during their time at Shore; both approaches are core to the HD Schools academic philosophy. According to founder Tao Sun, "During the early years of primary school, the most important thing for children should not be the skills they learn but the cultivation of their characters." The goal, he argues, is inspiring children to become independent thinkers, problem solvers, and compassionate global citizens. 

The alignment between HD Schools' philosophy and Shore's own mission is striking, observes Clair Ward. "This is an opportunity for Shore to partner with a highly-regarded global innovator, may of whose values we share, and to support each other through the exchange of best practices and professional development opportunities." During their visit, the HD Schools educators took a tour of Shore's facilities, peppering Ward, their tour guide, with questions about the school's program, and peeking into classrooms from Pre-K 1 to Grade 9. The visitors were intrigued by Shore's Reggio Emilia-inspired early learning approach, and they observed intently a sixth-grade history discussion around the Harkness table. In the iLab, the educators remarked on Shore's practice of encouraging its youngest students to handle real tools to tackle design challenges, and in the Trustey Family Theatre they appreciated the sophisticated and flexible lighting system that enables both stage performances and classes and assemblies in the same space.

The visitors explored these and other themes in conversations that followed with division heads Sara Knox and Gustavo Carrera, and they enjoyed lunch in the historic Winslow Building. "It is always a pleasure to return to Shore," said one guest, "where we can see this history side-by-side with the most modern educational practices." In this sense, it may well be that Shore has much in common with schools half a world away.