Imagine sending your child to a school where their individual passions aren’t just recognised but strongly encouraged. This is the fundamental concept behind the International Baccalaureate programme at Hong Kong Academy (HKA), which incorporates “passion projects” into its forward-thinking curriculum. Cheryl Palamarak, Director of Admissions and Enrolment at the Academy tells us more about the programme.
“Whether your child is into filmmaking, loves a good debate, prefers hiking in the great outdoors, feels a mind-body connection, is an engineering wizard, thinks like a poet, is a drama kid or enjoys a little bit of everything, he or she can pursue that interest at Hong Kong Academy,” said Cheryl. “Because, no matter what excites your student, our teachers use that interest to push the student just a bit further.”
Encouraging strategic thinking
Students are taught to think outside the box and to develop ideas and strategies to formulate a plan of action. As one filmmaking student discovered, “When making films, it’s really important to communicate with your team and share ideas, because someone might have a great idea but not say it because they are nervous. So, it’s very important to share your ideas because it could help the group.” Similarly, a car-making student said, “This project helped me to become more of a thinker because I had to think creatively to design a car.”
The passion projects come in several forms, such as field trips, subject-specific investigations, wellbeing activities, interdisciplinary units that bring two or more subject areas together, service opportunities and individualised experiences. Subjects include Animation, Filmmaking, F1 Car Club, Debate, Escape Room, Hiking, Impact HK, Mind Body Soul Retreat, Robotics, Painting, Creative Writing, Performing Arts, Trash Free Seas, and Sea to Summit.
Becoming lifelong learners
The educators at HKA believe children, tweens and teens need to flex their critical-thinking muscles and hone their collaboration reflexes so that they can become effective and adaptive lifelong learners. That’s why they’ve introduced opportunities for students to dive deep into their personal interests with interdisciplinary, multi-sensory projects that challenge them to be independent self-managers. They engage in projects by planning, organising and reflecting on their experiences, and students gain core knowledge and, equally importantly, develop self-confidence and discipline.
“The world and its technology are so different from when most parents went to school,” says Jo Crimmins, Secondary School Principal. “We feel it’s important to equip children with the right tools to help them succeed.”
This article first appeared in the December/January 2018/19 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.