Philosophy of Education

HKIS PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION

HKIS uses a comprehensive standards-based curriculum in which we teach for understanding. Students understand when they acquire important new knowledge and skills, make meaning of big ideas related to the knowledge and skills, and transfer this learning to new and authentic situations.

The Understanding by Design (UbD) model, which seeks to structure teaching for understanding, guides us in the formulation of our written curriculum. We align curriculum, instruction, and assessment to allow students to demonstrate understanding by developing enduring understandings and building on previous learning experiences and previously learned knowledge and skills. HKIS teachers regularly update and revise curricula to reflect current best practices and research.

At HKIS, we believe that the purpose of assessment is to promote learning. A robust system of assessment is relevant and accurate, ongoing, informative and timely, and understandable to all. Multiple forms of assessment are used to allow students to demonstrate their understanding; formative assessments are used to guide instruction and student goal-setting while summative assessments summarize the mastery of content, knowledge or skills at a particular point in time.


HKIS Reception 1 to Grade 12 Subject Philosophies

At HKIS, each of our 13 subjects has an underlying philosophy to assist teachers in providing focused instruction from Reception 1 to Grade 12, supporting the school’s Mission, Vision and Student Learning Results. No matter what the subject, students learn skills that will serve them throughout their lives.

Designed by our teachers and administrators, each of the subject philosophies answers three key questions:

  1. What are HKIS’s essential beliefs about the subject and its value and importance to each student?
  2. What are our long-term transfer goals for our students? (Transfer goals are the application of understanding, knowledge, and skills that students do independently now and as adults.)
  3. For which common agreements will HKIS hold ourselves accountable? What professional practices do we believe have the most positive impact on learning in the subject.

Philosophies - Core Subjects

English Language Arts

English Language Arts Beliefs
At HKIS, we believe literacy - reading, writing, speaking, listening - is a keystone to all learning. We value questions as much as answers, process as much as product, and connections as much as content. Literacy is a transdisciplinary skill that enables us to reflect, transform, and innovate to better understand the world around us. Literate individuals are able to communicate, collaborate, excel in academic pursuits, respect other cultures, pursue and explore spirituality, and develop their own character.

Long-term Transfer Goals
Students will independently use their learning in ELA to:

  1. Identify themselves as readers: read and view for understanding, personal growth and pleasure, taking time to analyze and evaluate ideas from different perspectives.
  2. Identify themselves as writers: write effectively for a variety of professional and personal purposes.
  3. Converse intelligently with others about personal reading and viewing choices.
  4. Appreciate the beauty and power of the spoken word, in dramatic presentations, speeches or debates.
  5. Communicate orally in professional and personal contexts, with clarity, precision and sensitivity.

Common Agreements
We agree that English Language Arts education happens best when we provide opportunities for students to:

  1. Work in a climate of trust that encourages risk taking and in which they feel safe and valued.
  2. Be self-motivated and take ownership of their learning.
  3. Experience and engage with multiple voices and perspectives.
  4. Explore literature and language collaboratively.

Mathematics

Mathematics Beliefs
We believe mathematics is a universal language that allows us to make sense of fundamental principles, ideas, patterns, problems and phenomena that surround us.

Through exploring abstract and contextual mathematics, students will investigate applications and uses of mathematics in the world around them. Such investigations provide opportunities for students to engage in critical thinking and reasoning. Students will learn how to communicate and justify their thinking in multiple ways. Students will come to understand that mathematicians focus on big ideas in mathematics, and the connections between ideas.

Long-Term Transfer Goals
Students will independently and collaboratively use their learning in Mathematics to:

  1. Persevere and solve problems logically, creatively and confidently.
  2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
  3. Communicate thinking in a variety of situations and disciplines.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to process and plan by choosing efficient strategies and effective tools and resources.
  5. Apply learning in multiple ways and in familiar, unfamiliar and real world contexts.

Common Agreements
We agree that Mathematics education happens best when we provide opportunities for students to:

  1. Take risks and make mistakes in an emotionally safe environment that values growth.
  2. Build a conceptually-based foundation that moves between concrete, symbolic and abstract, in order to develop deep understanding.
  3. Reason and justify their thinking individually and with others.
  4. Think creatively and critically.
  5. Develop fact fluency through working with and exploring numbers in meaningful number activities.
  6. Ask questions, construct knowledge and reflect on the learning process.

Religious Education

Religious Education Beliefs
HKIS is grounded in the Christian faith and is respectful of the spiritual lives of all. The Christian faith is a response to the redemptive grace and love found in Jesus Christ, and recognizes that each student is a precious child of God. Respect and understanding of diverse religious beliefs is vital for harmonious living in our local and global communities.

Long-term Transfer Goals
Students will independently use their learning in RE to:

  1. Live according to positive values, including ethical conduct, compassion, respect and service.
  2. Identify and participate authentically in a spiritual community.
  3. Engage respectfully with others in dialogue about spiritual and religious topics.
  4. Seek to understand and to live in harmony with others of different spiritual or religious perspectives.

Common Agreements
We agree that Religious Education happens best we provide opportunities for students to:

  1. Engage in open conversations about spiritual and religious questions.
  2. Continue for students to examine and articulate their own spiritual identity by exploring the meaning of life and their connections with God.
  3. Develop a mindset of empathy and service and, in tangible ways use their talents and abilities to meet needs in the world.

Science

Science Beliefs
We believe science is a never-ending process of discovery, interpretation and evaluation. Science education empowers us to participate as collaborative problem-solvers and innovators in an increasingly scientific and technological world. Through the concurrent development of students’ scientific and engineering practices* and understanding of core ideas, we cultivate scientifically literate people who experience the richness and excitement of knowing about the ever-changing natural world and how it functions.

Long-term Transfer Goals
Students will independently use their learning in science to:

  1. Remain curious and passionate about our observations, our wonderings and our universe.
  2. Employ the habits of systems thinking to evaluate problems and inform decisions.
  3. Make responsible decisions regarding the use of earth’s resources.
  4. Engage intelligently in public discourse about matters of scientific and technological concerns.
  5. Appreciate the ways that science, technology, environment, society and culture influence each other.

Common Agreements
We agree that science education happens best when we provide opportunities for students to:

  1. Authentically perform as scientists to investigate how the world works, and as engineers** to develop solutions to problems.
  2. Engage in the practices of science to construct understanding of phenomena.
  3. Take risks and persevere in an emotionally safe environment that values the iterative and collaborative process of learning.
  4. Nurture their innate sense of curiosity and personal interests.

*Scientific and engineering practices: 1) Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering); 2) Developing and using models; 3) Planning and carrying out investigations; 4) Analysing and interpreting data; 5) Using mathematics and computational thinking; 6) Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering); 7) Engaging in argument from evidence; 8) Obtaining, evaluating and communicating information. [A framework for K-12 Science education, 2012]

**Engineering “to mean any engagement in a systematic practice of design to achieve solutions to particular human problems” [A framework for K-12 Science education, 2012]

Social Studies

Social Studies Beliefs
We believe Social Studies engages learners in an authentic and powerful exploration of the human experience. We seek to empower students with the knowledge, skills and dispositions to understand and solve the challenges facing an interdependent world. Our commitment is to prepare students to become compassionate, enlightened, and effective citizens of their local and global communities, who understand their own humanity and that of others.

Long-term Transfer Goals
Students will independently use their learning in Social Studies to:

  1. Take compassionate action.
  2. Make educated and ethical decisions.
  3. Innovate, collaborate and contribute to a just and sustainable world.
  4. Think critically in complex situations.

Common Agreements
We agree that Social Studies education happens best when we provide opportunities for students to:

  1. Construct their own knowledge through inquiry.
  2. Demonstrate their learning in authentic ways.
  3. Integrate diverse perspectives and disciplines.
  4. Value the question as much as the answer, process as much as the product, connections as much as the content.

World Language

World Language Beliefs
Language and communication are at the heart of the human experience. Foreign language acquisition encourages students to respect and understand other cultures, as well as heightens the awareness of their own culture and language. Learning about culture promotes increased sensitivity and compassion, while fostering the value of diverse perspectives. Foreign language acquisition equips students to participate more actively in the global community and to be more adaptable in an increasingly interconnected world. Our program places a differentiated focus on the three modes of communication (interpersonal, interpretive and presentational).

Long-term Transfer Goals
Students will independently use their learning in World Languages to:

  1. Communicate meaningful information in authentic interactions in a culturally sensitive manner.
  2. Listen to and respect multiple perspectives.
  3. Display and promote intercultural understanding and respect for other cultures.
  4. Participate effectively in multilingual communities.
  5. Use the language for personal enjoyment and enrichment.

Common Agreements
We agree that World Language education happens best when we provide opportunities for students to:

  1. Learn in an atmosphere of trust, care and safety.
  2. Take risks with their learning.
  3. Share responsibility for the atmosphere and learning experiences; be proactive and take ownership for their own learning.
  4. Participate in collaborative and interactive learning experiences.
  5. Engage with authentic resources to help develop cultural and linguistic competency.

Philosophies - Other Subjects

Co-curricular

Co-curricular Beliefs
HKIS believes co-curricular activities are integral to the total education experience for students. The co-curricular program supports the actualization of the school’s Mission, Vision and Student Learning Results (SLRs). Co-curricular activities provide opportunities for students to explore and pursue areas of interest in diverse environments, promoting the development of both collaborative and individual knowledge and skills. These experiences, when pursued appropriately, promote the fulfillment of a healthy and balanced life.

Long-term Transfer Goals
Students will independently use their learning in co-curricular programs to:

  1. Maintain an active and healthy lifestyle with a good work-life balance.
  2. Engage in and enjoy a variety of athletic and non-athletic pursuits and interests.
  3. Express their creativity.
  4. Interact positively with others and contribute constructively and respectfully as a member of a group or team.
  5. Value and demonstrate good sportsmanship and fair play.
  6. Recognise and access opportunities for positive risk-taking.
  7. Give back by volunteering or contributing as a coach or mentor.

Common Agreements
We agree that co-curricular programs have the most positive impact when we follow the agreements below:

  1. Commitment to a balanced program: We will provide a balanced variety of opportunities, both athletic and non-athletic, to encourage all students to explore their passions and interests.
  2. Complementary programs: We will provide opportunities that complement educational programs.
  3. Alignment/Flow: We will provide a developmentally appropriate progression of experiences and instruction in selected activities, such that skills can be honed and tested in increasingly sophisticated situations.
  4. Student Participation: We will encourage students to engage in a balanced variety of co-curricular programs during their years at HKIS.
  5. Build community and connectedness: We will provide co-curricular experiences that will foster in students a sense of school spirit, connectedness and pride.
  6. Lifelong learning: We will provide co-curricular experiences that encourage in students the development of transferable skills, habits and dispositions that will serve them well in their future.

Counseling

Counseling Beliefs
We believe that each student is a unique, developing, capable individual who will learn from their experiences and grow personally, socially, spiritually and academically throughout their lives.

Long-term Transfer Goals
As a result of engagement with the HKIS social-emotional curriculum and counseling services, students will:

  1. Understand the value of a growth mindset.
  2. Have an openness to seeking solutions.
  3. Show an awareness of the wide range of human emotions and the intersection of thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
  4. Be equipped with knowledge and an array of skills for self-management and positive self-regard.
  5. Demonstrate empathy toward others and compassion toward those in need.

Common Agreements
In the best interests of students, we believe that:

  1. All students have a right to quality guidance and school counseling services throughout their school years.
  2. The best outcomes happen when all members of the school community share in the nurturing of students’ social, emotional and spiritual well-being and their sense of connection within the school and the larger world community.
  3. School counseling is both preventative and remedial in fostering social-emotional, spiritual, academic and personal development in support of a balanced life.
  4. School counselors work collaboratively with faculty, administration, parents, students and the community to provide opportunities that will enable students to set goals, establish priorities, make informed decisions and evaluate results.

Learning Innovation

Learning Innovation Beliefs
We believe that innovative learning and teaching are essential to creating an authentic and personally meaningful education that values process.

Today's learners experience continual change in the information and technologies they encounter in their personal and professional lives. We must prepare our learners to be resourceful, adaptable and ethical creators, collaborators and communicators. The use of information and technology literacies permeates all aspects of the curriculum: Learning for innovation requires multiple literacies.

We are committed to fostering a shared sense of enjoyment and empowerment in the pursuit of lifelong, self-directed reading, learning and taking informed action.

Long-term Transfer Goals
Students will independently use their learning to:

  1. Analyze and evaluate information, ideas and opinions from a variety of perspectives.
  2. Read and view for understanding, personal growth and enjoyment.
  3. Use innovative and creative ways to raise compelling questions, frame and solve problems and construct knowledge.
  4. Inquire and maintain awareness about local and global issues, deliberate with other people, and take well-informed constructive, independent and collaborative action.

Common Agreements
We agree that innovative learning happens best when educators encourage and model:

  1. Authentic opportunities for learners to have open permission to create and innovate.
  2. A variety of ways to document learning that encourages reflection.
  3. The mindset of adaptability and curiosity.
  4. Ethical learning practices.
A range of strategies and tools that empower them to be self-motivated collaborators, communicators, and creators.

Music

Music Beliefs
Music is valued in human culture because it brings us a sense of beauty, connection with others, and belonging to something larger than ourselves. Participating in music involves the learners’ whole being and fosters the development of mind, body and spirit.

Music education develops the skills, knowledge and habits of musicianship and the emotional expressiveness and responsiveness of musicality. Music education supports connections with other disciplines and also builds character through encouraging growth in creativity, resilience, and collaboration. The HKIS music program prepares students to be contributing members of a diverse society, and encourages lifelong music appreciation.

Long-term Transfer Goals
Students will independently use their learning in Music Education to:

  1. Create a personal place for music and enjoy music throughout their lives.
  2. Develop their own musical preferences while appreciating the value of diverse genres.
  3. Be discerning listeners and educated consumers of music, responding to music and having intelligent conversations about what they hear.
  4. Further develop the skills and habits of musicianship and express their individual musicality.
  5. Experience the power of many becoming one through musical connections within an ensemble.

Common Agreements
We agree that Music Education happens best when we:

  1. Show and share our own love of music.
  2. Create safe and positive spaces that invite students to be themselves, take risks and experience the joy of making music.
  3. Give students opportunities to listen, respond to music, and converse about music.
  4. Encourage the development of both musicianship and musicality, and provide opportunities to share music through performance.
  5. Give students opportunities to hear and explore a diverse repertoire.
  6. Provide rewarding and successful ensemble experiences that allow students to feel the power and beauty of musical synchrony.

Physical Education

Physical Education Beliefs
Physical Education at Hong Kong International School is a vital component of an overall program which seeks to educate the whole child. Physical Education offers unique opportunities to develop the body, mind and spirit through movement. Regular physical activity improves all aspects of life, enhances the development of the brain and contributes to emotional well being. Our commitment is to empower students with the skills, knowledge and dispositions to collaborate, cooperate, resolve issues, overcome obstacles and practice sportsmanship.

Long-term Transfer Goals
Students will independently use their learning in PE to:

  1. Maintain an active and healthy lifestyle with a good work-life balance.
  2. Engage in and enjoy a variety of physical pursuits.
  3. Interact positively with others, contribute constructively to a group or team in order to promote mutual respect.
  4. Sustain a healthy body- and self-image.
  5. Appreciate aesthetic movement and performances.
  6. Recognise and access opportunities for positive risk-taking.

Common Agreements

We agree that PE happens best when we provide opportunities for students to:

  1. Challenge themselves in an inclusive, safe and supportive environment.
  2. Experience a variety of differentiated and enjoyable physical activities.
  3. Cooperate with and value each other.
  4. Learn from adult modelling of good sportsmanship, resilience, respect, problem solving and teamwork.

Theatre Arts

Theatre Arts Beliefs
We believe that Theatre Arts education promotes empathy and enriches students’ understanding of humanity in all its diversity. Theatre Arts provides an accepting and supportive environment, in which students develop their self-confidence, self-expression and creativity. Students learn how to display the professionalism of the theatre artist, by maintaining deadlines, being punctual, dependable and responsible. Theatre Arts education fosters collaborative and critical thinking skills and dispositions that apply across all disciplines.

Long-term Transfer Goals
Students will independently use their learning in Theatre Arts to:

  1. Make empathetic connections to others and respond compassionately.
  2. Be life-long patrons of theatre: appreciate theatre experiences as an audience member or active participant.
  3. Converse intelligently about performances and dramatic works.
  4. Collaborate and contribute constructively as a member of a group.
  5. Practice self-reflection, and be receptive to feedback in pursuit of continued growth.

Common Agreements
We agree that Theatre Arts education happens best when we provide opportunities for students to:

  1. Develop effective collaborative skills in a supportive, trusting environment.
  2. Explore different perspectives.
  3. Craft and present performances.
  4. Deepen their understanding by taking risks and challenging themselves.
  5. Become more self-aware.

Visual Arts

Visual Arts Beliefs
We believe that Theatre Arts education promotes empathy and enriches students’ understanding of humanity in all its diversity. Theatre Arts provides an accepting and supportive environment, in which students develop their self-confidence, self-expression and creativity. Students learn how to display the professionalism of the theatre artist, by maintaining deadlines, being punctual, dependable and responsible. Theatre Arts education fosters collaborative and critical thinking skills and dispositions that apply across all disciplines.

Long-term Transfer Goals
Students will independently use their learning in Theatre Arts to:

  1. Make empathetic connections to others and respond compassionately.
  2. Be life-long patrons of theatre: appreciate theatre experiences as an audience member or active participant.
  3. Converse intelligently about performances and dramatic works.
  4. Collaborate and contribute constructively as a member of a group.
  5. Practice self-reflection, and be receptive to feedback in pursuit of continued growth.

Common Agreements
We agree that Theatre Arts education happens best when we provide opportunities for students to:

  1. Develop effective collaborative skills in a supportive, trusting environment.
  2. Explore different perspectives.
  3. Craft and present performances.
  4. Deepen their understanding by taking risks and challenging themselves.
  5. Become more self-aware.

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