Chinese and Foreign Principals Convened at Shanghai Thomas School——Focus on Reform of Learning Style，Discussion on Effective Practice of PBL
On November 20th, 2019, the newly-launched Shanghai Thomas School welcomed nearly 400 Chinese and foreign educators. “2019 International Forum for Secondary and Primary Principals in Yangtze River Delta” themed “Reform of Learning Style and Effective Practice of PBL” was solemnly held.
【PBL（Problem -based Learning，简称PBL）即基于问题的学习，是一种包容性很强的学习方式和教育方法，深受全球推崇。PBL不同于传统的讲授式课堂，它是一种以学生为中心的教学法，学生通过解决在启发材料中发现的开放式问题来获得学习经验。在PBL学习过程中，学生以小组合作的形式解决真实世界的问题，特别关注学生的反馈和推理，这让学生在学习上保持了更强的学习动机，发展了批判性思维、写作与沟通技能，增强了团队协作培养了终身学习的能力。上海托马斯实验学校将PBL项目学习植入STEM/STEAM教育中，并尝试开设了IBET课程（英语、生物、工程综合课程）。】
【PBL (abbreviated as PBL) refers to problem-based learning, which is an inclusive learning method and educational approach highly praised in the world. Unlike traditional lecture-style classes, PBL is a student-centered learning approach, through which students can gain learning experiences by addressing open-ended questions presented in inspirational materials. In the PBL learning process, students solve real-world problems working in groups; special attention is paid to students' feedback and reasoning, which enables students to maintain stronger learning motivation as well as develop critical thinking, writing and communication skills. It also enhances team spirits and cultivates students’ lifelong learning ability. Shanghai Thomas School has embedded PBL projects into its STEM/STEAM education and has pioneered in setting up the iBET course (an interdisciplinary course of English, Biology, and Engineering). 】
Jia Wei, Deputy Director of the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission, gave a welcome speech to congratulate on the success of the forum. In his speech, he said “I hope the principals of primary and secondary schools in the Yangtze River Delta can conduct in-depth research and exploration on the PBL learning approach; I also look forward to the splendid blossom of PBL fruits in the soil of the Yangtze River Delta.” At the same time, he hoped the forum could promote the cooperation between principals of primary and secondary schools in the region so that every school can maintain its educational vitality and become pioneers and models for Chinese primary and secondary education.
Ms. Wang Jue, Deputy Head of Putuo District Government, pointed out in her speech that “this forum focuses on “Reform of learning style” and profoundly explores the direction and path of primary and secondary curriculum reform in the context of the new era, aiming to broaden the international vision of primary and secondary school principals and enhance their ability to effectively put PBL into real practice”. “It will promote the transformation of students' learning styles and explore how to construct the educational model of “Virtues and Five Educations” in the new era”. She hoped the insights from Chinese and foreign principals would help break the bottleneck in the comprehensive education reform, accelerate the modernization of Putuo education and promote high-quality education integration in the Yangtze River Delta.
Mr. Zhang Wuhua, President of Ambright Education Group (the creator of Shanghai Thomas School), Deputy Director of the Jiangsu Provincial Political Consultative Conference Committee, Deputy Director of the Zhigong Party Central Education Committee, and Dean of the Ambright Education Research Institute looked into the future of PBL practice in primary and secondary school under the background of education integration in the Yangtze River Delta. He also indicated the important experiences and achievements that could be attained in the near future.
Mr. Su Chen, Secretary General of the Shanghai Education Society, was the host of the opening ceremony. Mr. Fan Yigang, Deputy Inspector and Deputy Party Secretary of Putuo District, Ms. Wu Lingyu, Party Secretary of Putuo District, Mr. Ji Mingze, Party Secretary of the Teaching and Research Department at Shanghai Education Commission, Mr. Jiang Xun Party Secretary and Director of Wuhu Municipal Education Bureau, Gu Naixao, Deputy Director of the Supervision Office at Suzhou Municipal Government, Liu Yucheng, Deputy Education Secretary of Jiaxing Municipal Committee etc. were present in the forum. Education experts and keynote speakers from the UK, the US and the Yangtze River Delta, government’s education department heads from four cities (Putuo district of Shanghai, Suzhou, Jiaxing, Wuhu) and principals and party secretaries of primary and secondary schools in Putuo District etc. attended the opening ceremony.
Mr. Ji Mingze, Party Secretary of the Shanghai Education Commission, hosted the discussion session on keynote speeches.
中国教育学会学术委员会委员、原浦东教育发展研究院院长顾志跃以《指向问题解决的项目式教学》为题作主旨报告。原美国康奈尔大学助理教学副校长Doris Davis和英国埃克塞特数学学校校长Kerry Burnham分别作《基于问题的学习与准备进入美国的大学》和《项目式学习：失败是走向成功的关键》报告。
Mr. Gu Zhiyue, Member of the Academic Committee of the China Education Society and Former Dean at the Shanghai Pudong Education Development Research Institute, gave a keynote speech titled "Project-oriented Teaching for Problem Solving". Doris Davis, Former Associate Provost for Admissions and Enrollment at Cornell University and Kerry Burnham, Headteacher at Exeter Maths School, made keynote reports on “Problem-Based Learning and Preparation for Universities in the US" and "Project-Based Learning: Failure is the Key to Success" respectively.
A speech titled "Problem-Based Learning: The Perspective of the University" was delivered by Dr. David Cardwell, a world-renowned expert, Chief PBL mentor of Thomas schools in China, the Vice-Chancellor at the University of Cambridge, and Academician of the UK Royal Academy of Engineering, kicking off the afternoon session.
他说：PBL的进程不会关注已知答案的问题解决，但会关注发展其他方面的技能和价值，包括知识获取、增强团队协作和交流等。他把这称之为 “Discovery learning”（发现学习）。
David Cardwell勾画了一个“The PBL Cycle ”（ PBL学习圈环），从问题开始、明确专业术语、定义问题、头脑风暴、 构建假设、学习目标、独立研究、综合推理、动手操作和优于单纯记忆九个方面做了PBL的教育进阶分享。
He said: “PBL learning process does not focus on solving problems with close-ended answers, instead, it puts more emphasis on developing other skills and values, including knowledge acquisition, teamwork and communication”. He defined it as "Discovery Learning".
Mr. Cardwell sketches a "PBL Cycle", which starts by defining terminology and questions, brainstorming, building hypotheses and learning objectives, and conducting independent research, integrated reasoning and hands-on operation. He showed the advantage of PBL learning over rote learning in nine different aspects.
同时，他以自己在中国托马斯实验学校PBL教育实践为例，从PBL实践步骤、PBL项目要素、主要过程等进行了全面深入的剖析。他说，在PBL教育方式下，每个孩子都是一个特殊的个体，会担当特殊的角色，团队协作是关键，Connection is Everything（ 相互联系就是一切），当孩子完成项目的同时，也将获取终身学习的能力，这将让孩子受益一生。
At the same time, he used the PBL education practice in Chinese Thomas School as an example, and made a comprehensive and in-depth analysis on the PBL practice steps, the PBL project constituents, and the main process. He said that in the PBL educational mode, each child is a special individual and will play a special role. Teamwork is the key. Connection is everything. When the child completes the project, he will also attain the lifelong learning ability, which will benefit them for a lifetime.
More than 20 education experts from the UK, the US and the Yangtze River Delta region participated in the discussion and gave their speeches.
Ms. Liu Youxia, Party Secretary and Vice Dean of Shanghai Putuo District Education College and Party Representative of Shanghai Thomas School, hosted the High School Forum.
A group of well-known principals from the US, the UK, the Yangtze River Delta and Putuo District participated in the discussion at Primary and Secondary School Forums.
At the end of the forum, Mr. Zhao Zhongjian, professor of the Institute of International and Comparative Education at East China Normal University, made a summary report. He said that in the context of deepening education reform, implementing STEM education and PBL learning methods, focusing on core literacy cultivation, especially on creativity development, is of great value.
The forum’s curtain fell in heated exchange of thoughts and collision of ideas. We felt quite rewarded as participants of the forum. A flourishing education is decisive to a country’s prosperity. Enhancing education advantage is the fundamental for our great rejuvenation of China. It is also an eternal mission to make the Chinese people satisfied with education. For every member of Shanghai Thomas School, in order to successfully build a first-class international school in Shanghai, we must strive to explore the innovative international education. It is our mission and unswerving motto.