John McBryde is an international educational leader with over 40 years of experience. He is a founder of ACAMIS and has served on the boards of education groups such as EARCOS and ACAMIS. He has worked in Beijing for 18 years including nine years as Director of Western Academy of Beijing (WAB) and CEO of Beanstalk International Bilingual School (BIBS).
He has worked on international accreditation projects with the Council of International Schools (CIS), Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and has received a number of prestigious awards including from CIS for his service to international education and a Foreign Expert Award by Beijing government for his special contributions to education in China.
John’s current interests include education reform in the age of disruption and learning spaces that support flexible learning.
BIBS, provides a perfect unique balance between Chinese and Western education
I have been in international education now for more than 30 years, and nearly 20 years of that has been in Beijing. I first came to work in Beijing in 1998 and I was the director of Western Academy of Beijing.
It was 1998 too that BIBS was established, and I had the pleasure to get to know Ms. Kathy Shi, founder of BIBS, shortly after that. I think BIBS has been a true leader in bilingual education and from that time Kathy Shi understood this need. Her vision recognized the need to forge the balance between international education or the best of western education and retaining the Chinese characteristics and the outcome of basic education of the Chinese education authorities.
In my past 17 years in Beijing, I have been personally involved in the foundation and development of many schools and education projects. I helped to found the Association of China and Mongolia International Schools (ACAMIS), and served on that board for 10 years, and served in the East Asia Regional Council of Overseas Schools (EARCOS) and as accreditation leader of visiting team leader for Council of International Schools (CIS), the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and also the New England Association (NEASC). I was also involved in some projects with the Chinese ministry of education. In fact, this is my second time working at BIBS. I have known BIBS and Kathy for a long time. I joined in 2013 for several years and then returned just last year. It is great to be back at BIBS and it is also great to be back in Beijing, a city that I call home.
IB curriculum, preparing students for the world of tomorrow.
It has been amazing to see how much Beijing has changed, and how much China has changed in the last 20 years, but the world has changed too. The world is different from the world than when you or I went to school. For our children who are in kindergarten today if we think through 12 years of education ahead of them, and then university, they will be graduating and going into the world of work in around the year 2040.
The soft skills that we currently refer to as ‘Future Skills’ such as creativity, innovation, high level critical thinking, empathy, are already required by today’s employers. Parents have realized that traditional schools do not teach those things, because they are more focused on teaching content, and preparing students to sit for exams. But today the world is looking for a lot more from students than just a good score in a test.
I think that we need to focus on more than getting into a good university and also focus on ensuring that they have highly developed ‘future work’ skills. Skills like creativity and innovation are not taught when you are 20 years old, they need to be skills that are nurtured and developed throughout all their K-12 education. Those skills will be a key differentiator for young people to be ‘attractive’ and ‘successful’ in the world of work in the future.
I have become a strong advocate of the IB programs and over the last 20 years have seen many strong attributes that IB graduates share in common. I believe that the IB programs and philosophy have incorporated many of the key elements of future ready education. These include a focus on meaningful learning, thinking , creative and interpersonal skills and inter-disciplinary, inquiry and problem based learning. We are living in a highly interdependent global world. The IB programs are unique in their focus on developing global competence including international mindedness and understanding as well as a focus on developing an understanding of social responsibility and skills of leadership and action.
The IB continues to refine and evolve its in response to leading research worldwide. I think they are at the leading edge of the curve compared with other curricula programs and that IB schools are more focused on preparing students for the world of tomorrow. To me, that is what parents are really hoping for - giving their children a unique edge that gives the critical advantage compared to others and having the attitudes, knowledge, understandings and skills to be successful in life.
Work together to face challenges
正如一句非洲谚语所说：“It takes a village to raise a child.（倾全村之力才能抚育一个孩子。）”学校、家庭及整个社会大环境都会对孩子产生深远的影响。
There is an African saying, “it takes a village to raise a child.” Many things in a child’s life have an impact on their learning, and I think it is important for us to understand the impact of home and environment on learning. In today’s technological age – new ways of learning have emerged, many of which have become preferred by learners – both at school and adults.
Learning can be difficult at times, and schools, students and parents are under a lot of pressure in today’s competitive and rapidly changing world.
Traditional education works well for some students but less well for others. But all students need to be able to be successful. Success for everybody is important.
We must accept in a family there are problems. There are disagreements, misunderstandings, just like in schools. It is important that we are all there for the children, we are all committed to our children and their success. And when there are some difficulties, kids are not getting along with each other, or maybe not liking the teacher or not doing well in a subject, the best way forward is to actually work together. I think a healthy school-home relationship is incredibly important part of success for all young people.
Finally, I want to encourage everyone’s effort to work together for our children’s successful future, a wonderful world tomorrow.