Difference Making at the Heart of Learning

Difference Making at the Heart of Learning

December 1, 2022

Today’s learners know they face a complex future. They yearn to live in a world where people are working with purpose, leading with character and making a difference. Learning to identify problems and use smart tools to develop meaningful solutions will help them make a difference in their families, their communities and for society.  Finding purpose in what they learn, is key to positive education, and students best learn to be confident about the future which can be uncertain, by having the agency to know they can create the future they envision.

To this end, we continue to actively engage our staff, students and stakeholders on our discovery journey in positive education.  We engender overall coherence, clarity and relevance of our key school directions by making sense of why we do the things that we do – particularly against the backdrop of a VUCA world and an evolving educational landscape. Specifically, we have reaffirmed our school mission to develop passion, creativity and care among staff and students, so as a  vibrant and connected community we can realise our vision to aspire, learn and lead.  Through ongoing improvements made to key programmes, we continue to premise our school GR3IT values, our ‘Portrait of the Yu Neng Student, and our shared school beliefs to routinise our 4R Learning Dispositions (Readiness, Reflectiveness, Resourcefulness and Relatedness) and develop knowledge and skills of students towards 21CC such as teamwork, communication, and innovation.

Over the next three years, 2023-2025, so as to better realise these students’ attributes and outcomes, we will be guided by two key thrusts: developing 21CC in our students through the design and provision of authentic blended learning environment; and promoting student agency through fostering self-efficacy and a growth mindset among our students (see Figure).  Anchored on the belief that learning must be joyful and purposeful and be nurtured as a lifelong process, our learning experiences and signature programmes are designed to engage students in authentic settings, scenarios and challenges. These experiences and programmes also facilitate the strengthening of learning dispositions (or ‘habits of mind and action’) in students to help them learn for life.

Overall, we aspire for a school experience that is undergirded by the key principles and practices of positive education of PERMA.  In a complex and fast-changing world, we are committed to developing agile and future leaders who are grounded in values. We want to develop in them a robustness of character and grit, a sense of ownership of their learning, a desire to continually strive to their personal best, the courage to speak up and always know that they are never too young to make a positive difference.  

The school recognises that staff are a key enabler to nurture future-ready learners and places great emphasis on how we engage, develop and deploy every member of staff. We are committed to building a caring, trusting, and positive environment for all staff to grow and thrive. In the promotion of the culture of innovation, we work with different staff segments to explore ways to strengthen staff agency.  At the same time, we place a strong focus on stakeholder partnerships, given our long history.  Going forward, we will consider how to involve parents beyond the programme and event levels, by harnessing their involvement in their children’s growth in Character and Citizenship Education and Learning Disposition acquisition. By extending their reach and impact, parent groups can also initiate connection efforts with other parents to change mindset and influence positive behaviours in support of our overall efforts to realise the refreshed YN portrait.  

Mindful of our continual need to balance the benefits gained and school resources expended on partnership efforts, we would further engage our stakeholders to take the lead for some key initiatives. For example, our YN alumni are currently spearheading a YN88 publication to be launched in the coming new year, to commerate our 88th anniversary, capturing voices of the YN family across the generations.  A charity art exhibition is also being organized to display collections of works by ex-Yu Neng staff and alumni, to demonstrate the YN spirit of “doing well by doing good”, and to inspire our current students to remain steadfast to our founding school motto to “light up and shine”.

From global pandemics to income inequality, the world faces unprecedented challenges. Today’s students may be ones to find a better way forward―but only if they develop their potential as problem solvers and change makers. We want our learners to feel empowered, be curious and have a sense of agency. Schools that make purpose and community the core of learning would be well poised to prepare their charges for the future.

Figure: Our YN Total Learning Experience

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