It’s Time to Get ‘Real’ About Learning: RCHK Introduces REAL into MYP classrooms

Written by Megan Chan

Playing board games in Y9 REAL Class ‘Money Money Money and Ethics’. Source: Daniel Cheung

Playing board games in Y9 REAL Class ‘Money Money Money and Ethics’. Source: Daniel Cheung

REAL week has always been a staple of the MYP curriculum experience. From Year 7 to Year 10, a week has been taken out of our hectic school year that allows us to kick back and do some learning for ourselves. It is a refreshing change from the usual fast-paced, classroom-based learning, and gives students the opportunities to learn about problems and situations grounded in the real world. It is an excellent time for students to rewind, have fun, while still strengthening their 21st-century skills and awareness of the world around them.

The new academic year holds many changes, but most notably the implementation of REAL classes for MYP students. Instead of an “intensive week-long study”, REAL week has been integrated into the curriculum as a lesson. Once every two weeks, students now participate in REAL class with a particular project chosen from a range of options.  This approach is hoped to allow more active and authentic application of academic knowledge and skills, as indicated by the third letter of the acronym.

“REAL class is a very fun and entertaining class. You don’t only learn about the topic you chose, but you also learn other life skills. For example, communicating with other students who aren’t in your class or trying to find a solution to a problem,” noted Year 8 student Adele Lau. 

Each year level shares a theme across its REAL classes -- for example, inequality. However, the projects offered do differ wildly. These range from STEM subjects, to additional language options, to others such as film or advertising. The projects available to students are based on teacher passions and aim to cater to the diversity of student passions at RCHK. The official description in the email blast initially sent to students and parents state that they aim “for students to have a deep and authentic learning experience in an area of their own interest that helps them to develop overarching learning skills and to gain new understandings.”

“I prefer REAL classes over REAL week because we get to do this over the course of our school year,” remarked Y10 student Esha Bijani. “Another reason I like it is because the options that we were given for REAL class were far more diverse than the ones we were given for REAL week.”

Not everyone is convinced, however. “I personally like the intensity of real week compared to the prolonged REAL classes, Year 9 student Daniel Cheung commented, “but it’s too early to judge now.”

Farah Ahmed, Year 8 and Year 9 REAL teacher, believes the value of the REAL programme lies in teaching individuals to ready themselves for life beyond school. “You’ll get out of REAL what you put into it. It teaches you real responsibility and to create your own learning.”

Birdie Lodders, Year 10 REAL teacher, agreed with the sentiment: “Education isn't simply about the acquisition of knowledge, it is about applying that knowledge and encouraging students to explore their interests and build an identity.”