Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Random Thoughts on International School Education Part 1: The Beauty of Performances

Since my piece on how we chose my son's school a last August, Noah has almost completed his Nursery 1 academic year, and what a year it has been. Being the dependent boy who grew up solely with his parents as his main caretakers, Noah has manned up considerably over time. His tearing in the morning has reduced from everyday to closer to a couple of times a week, with only the occasional tantrum before leaving home for school.

Through our daily commute to and from school, I observed with interest the interaction between staff, parents and students in an educational institution that calls itself an "international school". The concept of international education is relatively new to myself and I believe, most of my readers, so I have decided to share my thoughts on it from time to time.

If you had followed my thought process when I chose the school, you will realize that I do not have the "Tiger Mum" spirit. At this stage of my children's life, it's more important that the student-teacher ratio is good (16 to 3 ratio for nursery level at Noah's school), the teachers have a genuine love for little children and the school provides ample opportunity for learning through play.

After 1 year, I have to say that the school has delivered on most aspects. One point that stood out the most is the ceaseless efforts of the teachers to prepare the kids for one large-scale performance per term (3 terms per academic year). Every single event I witnessed was planned with much attention to detail, from stage decoration, music selection, choreography to even the costumes of every single student. The collective energy from teachers to make it happen at such a frequency is nothing short of amazing.

Really not in the mood that day.

Any school can teach little kids to grasp languages and master mathematics, but I believe not all schools can give every child the opportunity to showcase their talents in front of a considerable audience frequently. I can see many advantages of such an arrangement in school:
  1. By practising consistently for the performance, kids can experience the importance of teamwork, and appreciate the hard work behind the scenes before a successful show on stage.
  2. As most performances revolve around music, singing and dancing, kids can practise their physical coordination through the choreography as well as learn new skills such as singing techniques and playing musical instruments.
  3. Even though not every kid is born to love being on stage, such events give them a chance to know, from a young age, whether they enjoy performing or not, and of course, sieve out the talented ones from a very early stage of their growth.
  4. Give every kid precious precious performance opportunity, which were few and far between when I was growing up. Overcoming stage fright and being able to perform adequately under the pressure of being watched by important people is probably one of the most vital skills I would like my children to acquire during their school life. It would be great to start young.
As for Noah, I saw him grow from someone who did not really know what was going on during his first performance, to a bubbly boy who enjoyed every minute of this preparation for his most recent gig. Even though his well-prepared bubbly self did not show up during performance day, I know that he is slowly but surely grasping the concept of performing. At this rate, by the time he reaches Primary 1, he would already have the experience of at least 12 major performances in his pocket. Whoa!

As a Daddy who really loved the limelight (I won't deny it) during my heyday (I was in the Chinese Orchestra during secondary school, Choir during Junior College and sang for couple of 5-piece bands along the way), I can hardly hide my excitement as I look forward to Noah's next performance, which should come really soon!

We will always be supporting you korkor!

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