On 19 March, Pao School headmaster Wu Zijian and teacher representative Chris Zhuang were invited to Shanghai Education Television Station to discuss Pao School's whole-person educational approach. During the discussion, Headmaster Wu and Teacher Zhuang introduced Pao School's unique features and told some fascinating stories about life at Pao School.
（ Wu Zijian、Xu Lixia、Chris Zhuang ）
Lixia: How should we understand 'whole-person education'?
Zijian: In my understanding, whole-person education helps children to be more confident, optimistic, caring and sincere.
Chris: When talking about whole-person education, I always use the water bucket as an example. The school should provide comprehensive high-quality education to children that encompasses culture, community service and physical fitness. And all of these elements go into the building of the bucket. But in the end how much water can the water bucket carry? It depends on which board is the shortest. My understanding of whole-person education is that we can not relax the length of any piece of wood; that is, we must pay careful attention ensure each child's development is comprehensive and balanced.
Lixia: I have found that Pao school has many social extension courses and reading courses; there are also a lot of co-curricular activities.
Chris: In the Secondary Division, there is a program called Zhixing China. During that week, teachers bring students from all years on excursions where they work as teams on all different kinds of projects to gain hands-on experience. In some cases, they use compasses, or build their own water filters. It's an opportunity for both strengthening teamwork skills and individual character. The students learn quite a bit outside of the classroom.
Zijian: We have the Run-A-Way riding club organised by both students and parents, a total of more than 500 participants. I have been on a ride with them once, but just on the school campus. They have ridden around the whole island of Taiwan, Chongming Island, Hainan Island, Qiandao Lake and Tai Lake - "The Two Lakes and Three Islands Ride'. They also do benefit rides to raise funds to help children with leukemia in Shsanghai. This is one of Pao School's distinct traits: combining physical education and public service work.
Lixia: I have heard Pao School has a Xueyuan system that is similar to the Magic School in Harry Potter. That sounds intriguing - putting students from different years together. I'd like to know what the benefits of that are.
Zijian: I think the advantage is the positive effect on team spirit. Each Xueyuan has an eclectic mix of teachers and students. Whenever a new student joins a Xueyuan, the students and teachers in that Xueyuan will jump up and clap their hands. It's like they have a new crew member joining their ship. Each Xueyuan also has fun activities, including athletics and other actitivities related to technology. Every week, we announce award winners in morning classes and everybody feels especially cheerful.
Lixia: It sounds like the atmosphere there is great. I have also heard that in addition to the Xueyan system, the Secondary Division also offers a residential life programme, and teachers live with students. Have you had such an experience, Teacher Zhuang?
Chris: Yes I am a House Parent. During the day, I work as a teacher and at night I help the children with everyday needs. As a House Parent, I think my understanding of the children is three-dimensional. We interact the way members of families do with each other.
Lixia: What's really impressed me about Pao School is the students' hands-on ability. They are really creative; we can say that they love science and innovation. There is a story about a Pao student named Huang He who's quite good at IT, so good, that he became a bit of a hacker, although he was not so good in the beginning. Is that right?
Zijian: He created some trouble indeed. Since he is good at programming, he challenged the security of the Pao School network. When we discovered the problem, we explained to him why he was wrong, but we also encouraged him to pursue his interest in IT.
Chris: This child is extremely focused. When he focuses on one thing, he forgets everything else. When he was in Year 7 and 8, he often became so enamored in his creative technology projects that he would forget to do his homework. Our headmaster and teachers supported Huang He's accomplishments in technology while also working to help him make up the homework that he was behind on.
Lixia: Pao School is also known for its unique art education. As long as you stand on the stage, you can have a role to play?
Zijian: There is a big show in the Primary Division every year and last year the theme was to protect rainforests. More than 200 students participated out of a total of 500 in the Primary Division. There were more than 20 teachers involved in the direction and choreography. In the Secondary Division, students rehearse a different play every week. In our piano concert, every student who can play the piano has the chance to perform and showcase his or her skills.
Lixia: So according to what you two just said, whole-person education is implemented in every aspect of the Pao School experience. How about with regards to exams? Although Pao School does not require students to achieve high scores, but are there still challenges?
Zijian: Some parents would like their child to be admitted to a top school. At Pao School, our approach to education proves that once a child’s overall ability is high, he or she does not need to continuously memorize information for the purpose of tests to be good at problem solving. We cultivate the interests of children and their special talents. So when we give assignments, we focus on how students research the problems and practice . Some homework takes up to one month to complete. The purpose of that is for students to discuss together and learn. We also encourage students to showcase the unique aspects of their personalities. With the strong university acceptance results for our first cohort of graduates, it has been proven that our approach is correct.
Chris: There are many ways to evaluate teaching. Exams are just one way. We also evaluate students based on their public speaking ability, language fluency and level of hands-on experience. We save time (including on students' homework) by not evaluating students in the redundant way other schools do, and instead give students richer methods of evaluation. This helps students develop comprehensively, in line with the concept of whole-person education.
Lixia: Many parents are interested to know more about Pao School. This is a school with a very positive aura. This year is Pao School's tenth anniversary. What will Pao School look like ten years from now?
Zijian: To build a globally-renowned school is a long-term process. In the future, Pao School will continue to focus on its mission of whole-person education, passing on Chinese cultural traditions, and fostering a global perspective. We will focus on curriculum design as well as cultivating students' academic ability, innovation ability and character.