“Personal and Social Education” is the new heart of Renaissance College’s MYP curriculum
Written by Charisse Kong
The “heart of RCHK”, which includes community on values the left and personal well-being on the right.
Image from: RCHK website, Positive Education
Positive education and the importance of wellbeing were always valued principles in Renaissance College. This is evident with the advocacy of the model, “Heart of RCHK”, in which the balance of community and wellbeing development are reiterated through the symbol of the school logo. The motto of positive psychology defines as “the study of strengths, and how people use them to thrive within relationships, work and play”. The school’s positive education programme is still considered modern in comparison to traditional, local schools or even other English Schools Foundation (ESF) schools in Hong Kong.
For the past years of MYP, Personal and Social Education (PSE) periods were occasionally carried out during the ten-minute advisory session each morning (which sometimes extends to the first period), aiming to educate students about the interpersonal topics such as bullying or handling stress.
“If we value PSE, which we do, it should have a legitimate place in the timetable alongside all other subjects,” said Mrs. Williams, the Head of Secondary. As a result of her initiative and contributions of Head of Years and Mr. Wheeler, the Vice Principal of Secondary,
Fixed PSE lessons were not supposed to be introduced until students reach DP curriculum (year 12 to 13), which is also exclusive to RCHK. Now, PSE sessions are set as a standard, double-period lesson, occurring once every ten-day cycle on year 7 to year 11 student timetables.
The addition of PSE lessons has resulted in one less double-period, which has raised various opinions regarding the prioritization of subjects.
“Personally, it is useless to me because, in class, no one actually pays attention either way, and most of the activities we do miss the point,” said year 10 student, Markus Fung. “We weren’t actually doing anything productive.”
“There are better ways to relax and take care of yourself, and besides, everyone does it their own way,” alumnus Cedric Kong said. He had previously experienced the PSE sessions in DP, and knowing that it is now included in the MYP curriculum, he considers it a waste of time for all students. “There’s no point dedicating class time to something that is not enjoyable.”
Parents are also expressing their perspectives on this new curriculum. In the annual Back to School night this year, parents were introduced to the foreign PSE programme.
“I do not believe that these lessons are necessary,” the mother of year 11 student, Keannu Rim expressed. “They shouldn’t use school time to teach something that cannot be taught.” She believes that these skills have to be learned by doing, instead of through a school lesson.
On the contrary, some students enjoy the well-being classes, as they feel it is useful and helpful in their daily and future lives.
“The PSE lessons are beneficial as it allows us to take breaks from our school work, whilst learning to be more aware of our mental health and personal development,” according to year 11 student, Elisa Chow.
Year 8 student, Torek Law, says that he finds PSE lessons fun because it offers him “more advice” and “good things to do” in his life.
Drama and PSE teacher, Ms. Colarossi, was chosen as she is qualified with a life skills teaching qualification as well as a psychology degree. She states that she enjoys teaching PSE, as it allows her to connect with students regarding personal and self-reflective issues.
“I think it is very important for all students to have a space to enrich their personal and social lives outside of the subject classes,” she said. “It provides students and teachers with the opportunity to learn more about themselves, equipping them with knowledge about how they may or can respond to certain situations that life may present to them.”
PSE teachers were selected or volunteered for the role but had to be able to take up their respective specialized subject in addition to PSE.
Mr. Grace, who specializes in history within Individuals and Societies, had been involved in writing PSE curriculums as a former head of year. He admits: “It is difficult teaching across more than one subject area, but these days this is a fairly normal part of a teacher's role.”
“As a subject area,” Mr. Grace added, “it has the potential to grow and become an integral and important part of student education.”