BEIJING, August 18, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — A mama, papa and baby bear are trying to catch fish for their dinner from a stream. The baby bear, desperate to learn this basic survival skill, tries but is unsuccessful and gives up. American 5-year olds who were told this story were more tolerant of the baby bear’s failure and still found it cute and furry, but their Chinese peers would have liked if the bear had persisted instead of giving up so easily. Dr. Jin Li says that the difference in response, revealed through academic research, is an indication of learning beliefs that come from “parental socialization” and then “joint socialization of parents and school” that are all culturally rooted. But one person sitting at the back of the room listening to Dr. Jin Li’s presentation at Keystone’s Sixth Education Salon was unhappy with this cultural distinction. Elementary school student and Chinese native, Coco, walked up to the front of the room and asked, “How can American kids be more tolerant of the baby bear? And as Chinese myself, which behavior should I choose?”
The Keystone Approach
An expert and scholar in the field of education and human development at Brown University, Dr. Li was happy that a student came forward with this question. She explained that one cultural approach is not better than another. It is about developing a cognitive ability to integrate different cultural learning approaches and applying them in the right moments. Keystone, with its uniquely integrated education model and values, is best suited to enable integration and inculcate an understanding of cultural variations in students, says Dr. Li. As she notes in her recent book Cultural Foundations of Learning: East and West, “Globalization increases rather than reduces the need for us to understand cultural variations.” “Keystone comes at the right time,” she encouragingly notes, “with its world-oriented focus, critical thinking pedagogical style and inquiry-based learning.”
Meeting of East and West
Dr. Li’s compelling talk to a packed AmCham conference room was a wake-up call to the unavoidable significance of understanding culturally oriented learning beliefs. Her several years of extensively comparative and impressive research of European-American and Chinese children has given us a peek into the minds of children and how they learn. The western learning approach looks for objective truths through inquiry and scientific discovery because the human mind is supreme and enjoys such intrinsic inquiry that will be put to ethical use. The eastern way approaches learning as a lifelong process to learn about the self and continually improve the self; this approach to learning enables and legitimizes powerless individuals and encourages a love for learning. In today’s world, eastern and western learning cultures meet through ever moving populations. Cultural integration is inevitable. In Dr. Li’s words, “It is quite possible to obtain knowledge and to retain one’s soul […]One can grow both with what has been enculturated and assimilated in one’s own culture and what has been acculturated in another.” Keystone’s mission is in tune with this dynamic and ever changing world. The Academy’s unique Chinese Thread lays the foundation to potential cultural integration. Keystone’s students will graduate as academically outstanding, culturally sensitive and integrated world citizens.
About Keystone Academy
Keystone Academy is a non-profit, philanthropic venture governed by a board of trustees. The school, which will enroll its inaugural class in fall 2014, blends distinctive traditions in eastern, western, and international education, creating a “new world school” that is academically outstanding and a new model of education in China. At Keystone, we embrace a world that is dynamic and ever changing. We learn from and we learn for this enterprising, global community.