Under China’s new policy to ease the burden of excessive homework and off-campus tutoring for all students in compulsory education, parents who have a full weekly schedule of extracurricular lessons and activities arranged for their children have had to rethink:
What kind of person do I want my child to be?
Education has returned to its essence, with “nurturing people” at its core. Since the opening of our school, we have always responded proactively to national policy and promoted a quality all-round education that emphasizes positive ideological and moral attributes, and which cultivates ability, personal development, physical health, and mental health education for all our pupils. Malvern College Chengdu offers all the courses required by the Chinese national curriculum, but it also draws on the essence of international education to develop cross-cultural learning, interdisciplinary exploration, bilingual immersion learning, and experiential learning. Therefore, the curriculum at Malvern College Chengdu Primary School offers not only basic courses such as Chinese, mathematics, foreign languages, and science but also a holistic education, through enrichment courses such as ‘Exploring the World’, Library Time, ICT and AI, Mathematics in English, Music in English, P.E. in English, Martial Arts, Dance, together with various extracurricular activities. We do this with the aim of further developing our students’ academic excellence, our pupils’ wellbeing, creative thinking and design, their arts and performance skills, sports and sportsmanship skills, international awareness, thinking and life skills.
This year, our curriculum has incorporated concepts from international understanding education, and we have launched themed research activities in which our students will explore the world. Within the context of China’s current extraordinary rejuvenation and cultural self-confidence, international understanding education in China has taken on a new mission, namely, to spread modern socialist culture, enhance cultural confidence, and to promote the building of a community with a common destiny. As such, Jennifer Pun, Director of Education (Chinese) for Malvern College International (Asia) and Founding Head of Primary for Malvern College Chengdu, said, “In this year’s curriculum, we have not only incorporated more elements of Chinese culture and focused on enhancing our students’ understanding of foreign cultures, but we have also placed more emphasis on making comparisons between Chinese and Western cultures. Our aim is to help our pupils to build a strong identity and sense of national pride from an early age, whilst also being able to understand the cultures of the world with compassion, and from a global perspective.”
Our previous ‘Curriculum Day’ articles have talked in detail about our English, Chinese and mathematics courses. Today, we would like to introduce you to Malvern College Chengdu’s Arts and P.E. curriculum.
Our Arts and P.E. curriculum includes Chinese martial arts, dance, Chinese and English music, visual arts and P.E. in Chinese and in English, all of which are based on the national curriculum framework and serve to add scope and depth to the curriculum. In addition, under the guidance of international understanding education principles, many elements of Chinese culture are incorporated into our martial arts, dance, music, art and P.E. classes, enabling our students to study and make comparisons between Chinese and Western cultures.
Zak Shi, Assistant Head of Primary, Regional Chinese P.E. & Performing Arts Coordinator and Chinese martial arts teacher comments, “We have brought together a group of talented teachers who are all passionate about physical education and the arts. They are shepherds who watch over their students as if they were lambs, with the goal of helping each child to find a place to belong and to develop a specialty in a field of art. Using small groups within each class, our teaching initially helps to develop our students’ interests and to explore their potential. Then, over time, we place them in different clubs, societies and sports teams to further develop their expertise.”
This article begins with an introduction to martial arts and dance.
In international understanding education, Malvern College Chengdu uses martial arts to give children an understanding and appreciation of Chinese culture as well as a greater sense of national pride. In ancient times, martial arts provided a way to defend oneself against attack. In modern times, it offers a way to exercise the body and to train children to react quickly and correctly should they suddenly encounter a dangerous situation. Martial arts also emphasize wude: the virtues that one should have while practicing martial arts. Wude contains aspects of Confucian thought, promoting etiquette, kindness, respect, humility, self-restraint, a sense of justice and a willingness to work with others. Learning martial arts allows students to acquire these traditional virtues.
Martial arts is a highly specialised sport. When taught as a subject in schools, it requires an effective and well-developed teaching system, otherwise, it would be a mere shadow of the real thing and not conducive to achieving the desired effect. Malvern College Chengdu not only has a specialist martial arts teacher, but also a mature teaching system that has stood the test of time, a rarity in Southwest China and even in the whole country.
Martial arts is a compulsory subject for students in Grades 1–6 at Malvern College Chengdu Primary School. Through an effective and methodical spiral approach to learning martial arts, children will gradually progress through the curriculum, master the basic martial arts techniques, and be able to demonstrate the different ‘forms’ of martial arts. If a child starts learning martial arts in Grade 1, then by Grade 6 they will have learnt six very different styles of martial arts, including ‘five step fist’, shaonian kung fu, shaolin kung fu, nanquan, changquan and tai chi, as well as how to handle 4 types of weapons, including single-edged swords, double-edged swords, sticks, and kung fu fans. Here, our students’ learning goes deeper and expands wider than in most other schools in China. Our martial arts classes also include comparisons between traditional Chinese martial arts and the various martial arts of the world, such as boxing, taekwondo, muay thai, and judo.
For students who show potential for development and have a keen interest in martial arts, Zak Shi has established a martial arts club. Students will go through a strict selection process, with only 18 successful students being accepted to join the team. Students who join the martial arts team will attend two additional one-hour training classes per week, which are part of the excellent co-curricular activities offered to students at Malvern College Chengdu.
All students at Malvern College Chengdu love martial arts, and every one of them has the opportunity to perform on stage. The school also provides opportunities for those children who excel in martial arts to take part in professional competitions and all of the above can be achieved through long-term study at the school.
In addition to martial arts, dance is another great way for children to strengthen their physique and improve their temperament. Dance is a compulsory part of the curriculum at Malvern College Chengdu, and every child benefits from a comprehensive study of dance throughout their primary school years. Our school-based course for modern dance draws on the teaching materials and standards of The Beijing Dance Academy’s Graded Examination in Chinese Dance. It includes basic dance skills, dance routines, and dance performances. Malvern College Chengdu is also one of the few schools in China that teaches dance in a systematic and structured manner in small groups.
Teachers select content from teaching materials for Levels 2 to 7 of the Graded Examination in Chinese Dance as their main resource for teaching students in grades 1–6. They also make use of multimedia resources and other diverse learning materials such as cultural dance performances from different regions and countries, musical theatre, and musicals.
The dance curriculum at Malvern College Chengdu combines training, entertainment, and a knowledge of Chinese dance and places an emphasis on scientific, methodical, and comprehensive training. The aim is to promote the healthy physical and mental development of our students, nurture their self-expression, and develop their aesthetic appreciation.
Students learn a variety of ethnic dances in class, including those of the Tibetan, Miao, Mongolian, Dai, and Uyghur peoples, as well as classical Chinese dance and Han Chinese folk dance – all of which help to enhance children’s aesthetic appreciation and their sense of national pride. Students benefit from their dance classes, as they learn to enjoy classical dance and various folk dances.
In addition to Chinese folk and classical dances, other world dances like contemporary dance, street dance and pop dance are also included in the curriculum. We hope that, through dance, our students will not only gain an in-depth understanding of traditional Chinese culture and increase their patriotism but will also extend their knowledge of world cultures.
From Grade 3 onwards, students start choreographing simple dance combinations based on their previous learning. In Grades 5 and 6, students learn to create their own choreographies based on musical numbers and stories and come up with dance routines for groups or individuals in order to elevate their creativity and collaboration skills.
The annual Winter Celebration, Spring Celebration and Art Exhibition are important performance times for the school where every student has the opportunity to perform on stage and showcase their achievements. It is through these events that their self-confidence grows little by little.
If your child enrols at Malvern, during their six years with us, they are able to acquire professional dance knowledge; understand different forms of dance, master the basic postures, movements and steps of over eleven dances; and gain an ability to choreograph their own dances.
For students who wish to go deeper and who are interested in receiving professional training, we have our special dance team at Malvern College Chengdu. Our methodical, standardized and highly demanding approach teaches children everything from the basics to technical skills and finished dance routines. Each child is also equipped with the training to perform on stage.
In our next article, we will introduce you to music, visual arts, and sports at Malvern College Chengdu Primary School, so be sure not to miss it!.