The lifelong journey of learning

ROSES AND THORNS - Pia Roces Morato - The Philippine Star

With the one-year anniversary of the lockdown firmly behind us, a number of parents are now realizing the importance of providing their children with the tools they need to be happy and healthy. Countless studies have shown that learning is linked to happiness, concluding that the pursuit of learning creates a flow of purpose and satisfaction in oneself.

This is especially important now that we are in the midst of a pandemic. A friend of mine sent me some information about the Chinese International School Manila (CISM), which seems to be providing these valuable tools to their kids. Upon doing a little research (and familiarizing myself with what CISM offers not only to students, but to parents as well), the school is predominantly focused on the formation of students, and establishing meaningful connections within a supportive community.

From its vision and mission statement, I learned that CISMs goals are to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who are motivated to succeed, and this is achieved through development of critical thinking skills, nurturing curiosity and improving the ability to solve complex problems.

In short, students are challenged to ask the right questions, think across disciplines and see how things are connected to one another -- and it is precisely this skill-set that will be imperative in the so-called “creative economy” that today’s children will face as adults.

The CISM parents I spoke with gushed about the way the school administration, its teachers and different departments support the students and their families. Evidently, the after-school activities also encourage students to explore new interests, which are refreshing and a break from the daily routine.

It seems to me that CISM offers what the most expensive international schools in the country are offering, at a fraction of the cost. They also appear to be particularly mindful about the thoughtfulness and care they put into the way they interact with students.

The smaller class sizes and teacher-to-student ratio are also a big plus. As their Head of School Karen Jones pointed out, “Small schools foster a sense of personal responsibility for the community. We have built a CISM community to support our students, educate them well and to provide a caring and enjoyable atmosphere. Consequently, we care about them because we know them well. We want our students to understand that they must work hard, as success in any area requires hard work and commitment, but they must also aspire to develop personally, take up the opportunities offered, to grow into adults with kindness and integrity and to want and be able to go out into the world and make a difference.” Very well said.

I also find the bilingual curriculum of CISM to be quite noteworthy, as the Chinese language gains increased prominence in international relations and business. Indeed, many studies have supported bilingual education as a means to expand learning opportunities, and this is another interesting approach to education that I think Filipino children would excel at, as most of us grew up in multilingual households.

In the past I have always said, and based on experience, learning another language – a world language at that – is no longer just a luxury but a necessity that provides our learners the opportunity to take part in the global market.

If the pandemic has shown us anything, it is that we must invest in ourselves and in our children to make the world a better place. Giving them the appropriate tools to tackle a post-pandemic landscape with an eye for details and a heart for compassion sounds like a very worthy investment of our time and effort.

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