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'Teaching and child development ingredients for success'The head of the Korea International School Jeju talks to The Weekly
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승인 2011.10.28  13:30:55
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▲ Photo by Angela Kim

Korea International School Jeju campus started its first semester on Sept. 16. It is located at the Jeju Global Education City, Daejung, Seogwipo City.

The Korea International School (KIS) Jeju is the first public international school to be established in the Jeju Global Education City. The school was established last year by the Jeju Special Self-Governing Province Office of Education (POE), and is managed by YBM Sisa, a well-known English education company in Korea. The semester officially began in mid-September, but the opening ceremony was postponed due to continuing construction.

According to Principal Dr. Jeffery Beedy, “the Global Education City is a novel and meaningful concept. The Jeju location is strategic in that it offers families an alternative to going to school overseas,” he said, adding, “The key to the success is the focus on the students and current research in the fields of education and human development.”

Currently, 389 students attend the school under the supervision of 45 foreign teachers. Not yet accredited by the Western Association of School and Colleges (WASC), KIS Jeju is nonetheless following WASC guidelines for its curriculum. If the school earns accreditation, students will be recognized by both the Korean and American education systems.

Dr. Beedy pointed out that KIS Jeju curriculum employs the Total Human Development Model [see the Q&A sidebar below – Ed.], which was created by himself while at Harvard and which in 2002 won the National Character Education Award.

POE Superintendent Yang Sung Un said, “Success of this school will be a model for incoming schools in the near future. I hope many Korean students do not go overseas for education, instead I want them to come to Jeju to be global talents.”

Over 250 students at the school are from outside of Jeju. Most parents, who were only able to see their children a month ago, were happy to see a short recital prepared by students and teachers during the opening ceremony.

Regarding boarding facilities, the principal said, “We have emphasized the fact that our staff are our ‘In Loco Parenti,’ and are responsible for the overall growth of the students. KIS Jeju faculty view dormitory life to be as important as the classroom and we work very hard to teach children about teamwork, respect, and responsibility.”

After the opening ceremony, unveiling ceremony, and a barbecue party, an open house followed.

Why come to KIS Jeju? Yang Eun Jung, a parent, said, “I choose KIS because my daughter can get American curriculum education in Korea. And Jeju campus does not have other country citizenship requirements.” And she added, “I talk to my daughter every day for an hour, at first she had a hard time adjusting to routine dormitory life, but she has gotten used to it now. I hear that she is enjoying her classes and she likes this school better than her previous school [which was a public school in Seoul].”

So far, the students seems to be satisfied with the school and so are the parents.


Q&A

The following is an email interview with KIS Jeju Principal Dr. Jeffrey Pratt Beedy.

What is the exact relationship between KIS Jeju and KIS? I have heard that KIS Jeju is a public school, while the other two KIS schools are not. Is this correct?

KIS Jeju is a public school in that the buildings are given by the South Korean Government. However, KIS Jeju is very much like the US private independent schools in the way the curriculum is organized and overseen by the KIS Jeju head of school. The families pay tuition [fees] to go to KIS Jeju like they do at private independent schools in the USA. KIS Jeju is similar to KIS, Pangyo in some meaningful ways (i.e. English only and Advanced Placement courses) but in others very different.

The biggest difference is that at KIS Jeju, the majority of the students are boarding students which means we are responsible for their overall development in the classroom, on the playing fields and in the dormitory. Toward this end, we strive to teach the whole child within the whole community. The faculty become “parents away from home” for the boarding students.


What is the future for the school? What are its weaknesses? What are its strengths?

KIS Jeju’s challenge for the future is to continue to strive for excellence and do whatever it takes to make sure the quality of the education is at the forefront of all decisions. Too often, schools become overly focused on political and economic forces instead of what is best for the students. Second, to be a truly global school in the future, KIS Jeju will need to become more diverse in its student and faculty body. To this end, KIS Jeju will need to broaden its academic and social appeal to attract a more diverse student body. Most important, KIS Jeju needs to continue to stay abreast of current educational research in the areas of teaching and child development. These preconditions for success will determine the degree to which KIS Jeju will move from good to great.


What are the merits of having a school on Jeju compared to other regions?

Having worked in US schools for over 30 years, I can see the value of providing parents who live in the greater Seoul area the oppor-tunity to receive a top tier boarding experience within a short flight to home. KIS Jeju allows the families to stay intact instead of living apart for many years. I predict this concept will become very popular as the word spreads to China and Japan.


What are the similarities and differences from KIS Jeju and North London Collegiate School (and other schools in Jeju Global Education City)? Do you plan to build a relationship with other schools?

NLCS is a great school with a great curriculum. We are alike in many ways, in that we serve roughly the same population of students and we are both primarily boarding. KIS Jeju follows an Advanced Placement curriculum where NLCS [North London Collegiate School] follows the International Baccalaureate curriculum. As both schools mature, they will develop their own culture which will make them different. This is the way it should be. All children are different in the way they learn and the same is true for schools. KIS Jeju and NLCS have already enjoyed mutual projects together and have plans for sporting and social events in the future.


According to JDC, there will be at least seven more schools coming into the Jeju Global Education City. Comparing KIS to other schools, why should parents and students choose KIS Jeju instead of other schools?

All children are different and all schools are different. The Global Education City provides parents and students with choices. This is good. Parents need to understand how their children learn best and choose a school that fits the "learning style" of their child. KIS Jeju's focus is on developing global leaders and has a distinct curriculum that undergirds our mission. For example, we employ a leadership rubric that develops in children the intrinsic motivation to be leaders. Built into the curriculum are Service Leadership opportunities beginning on the KIS campus, and branching out to Jeju Island and than further to other areas around the globe. KIS Jeju will also be implementing the Flat Classroom Project which connects KIS Jeju students through technology with students around the globe. Our sixth grade history students, for example, will study history with sixth grade history students across the globe.


Many parents are worried about Western Association of Schools and College (WASC) accreditation. When will the school to be accredited? In the worse case (if the school fails to get WASC accreditation, what will happen?)

KIS Jeju is already preparing for the WASC accreditation. Our leadership team attended WASC training last spring. As an experienced headmaster, I have successfully completed two accreditations in the USA. KIS Jeju should go through the WASC Accreditation during the second year. KIS Jeju has already compiled much of the data necessary to begin the process.


Total Human Development Model seems to be at the center of the school education, being on the title of every school. Can you elaborate more of the model?

The Total Human Development Model (THD) was created by Dr. Jeffrey Pratt Beedy and is an overarching educational template influenced by the cognitive-developmental approach to education (i.e. John Dewey, Jean Piaget, Kurt Hahn, Lawrence Kohlberg, Carol Gilligan, Howard Gardner et. al.). THD offers a guide for developing the whole child within the whole community. THD gained national recognition when New Hampton School in the USA was chosen as the only private secondary boarding school in America to win the National Character Educational Award in 2002. At KIS we took THD and combined it with a global view of education including the Framework for a 21st Century Learning (Partnership for the 21st Century Skills), and the Understand by Design approach to curriculum development. In the end, we created what we now call the Total Human Development Model to Global Education.

Specifically, THD is a set of five integrated components including a philosophy, psychology, and pedagogy of teaching and learning, as well as programs and progress (assessment). These five components provide educational communities with a template or “worldview” for developing the whole person within the whole community. There is little room for ambiguity when a school has a set of core operating principles that drive all decisions in the day-to-day operations of the school.The “THD worldview” frames the way in which we build our community and what we deem to be important. THD is the undergirding framework that defines the educational experience.


You mentioned “KIS Jeju will need to become more diverse in its student and faculty body.” How do you plan to achieve the goal?

Beginning next year we will begin to recruit students from China, Japan, and Thailand. As KIS, Jeju grows it will widen its admissions vision to include other countries. This will be a lengthy and difficult process, but one that is exciting and necessary.


What is your relationship with the JDC?

KIS, Jeju does not have a direct relationship with JDC. However, KIS, jeu is a part of the Global education City which makes us all a part of the greater team. KIS, Jeju, wants to be successful for its own sake but also for the greater good of the Global Education City.


(Interview by Angela Kim)




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