Integrated teaching practices that nurture the highest standards of intellect, character and physical development
MISSION & VISION
As an integral component of the educational programs of the Badi Foundation, the School of the Nations is dedicated to nurturing the physical, intellectual and spiritual development of its students, and developing their capabilities to promote the well-being of their families and communities. The context for our work is the recognition that humankind is progressing towards a global civilization that is just, prosperous, and peaceful and united. The school seeks to contribute to this process in the context of the Macau Special Administrative Region through its educational programs and engagement with the broader community.
The educational work of the School of the Nations seeks to integrate material and spiritual dimensions. One way to think of this is that the material dimension of our work is like a lamp glass, and the spiritual dimension is the light that illumines the lamp. The graceful combination of these elements enables the world to benefit from the lamp’s light.
The school, therefore, has highly trained teachers in all subjects recruited from all over the world; it maintains a safe, disciplined and friendly environment for learning; it promotes high academic standards, including offering top-level international examinations; and it prepares young people for attendance at top universities all over the world.
We believe, though, that the educational responsibility of our school extends beyond this. At the level of principle, our hope is to contribute, however modestly, to the establishment of the oneness of humanity, and heartfelt unity across the diverse cultures within the school and surrounding community is the aim of and stimulus for continuous efforts. With unity comes the flow of information, energy and commitment that ensures the “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” and makes transformation possible.
Our conception of human nature also illumines our approach to education. We believe that all human beings are endowed with, and intrinsically motivated to fulfil, a dual moral purpose—to promote the development of society and to refine their own character. In fact these two purposes are opposite sides of the same coin—developing kindness, understanding, perseverance and justice are necessary to effectively serve one's community, and service, in turn, stimulates the development of such attributes within us. In this view, true success and fulfilment are intimately linked with the development of character and selfless service to humanity.
Whilst these noble purposes and beautiful qualities are intrinsic in every human being, they are latent. Each of us possesses a higher (or spiritual) and lower (or animal) nature, and education is the process by which noble potentialities are nurtured and developed. Every human being is “a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.”
In addition to our concern for the development of our students and school community, contributing to the development of the surrounding community is an essential aspect of the School of the Nations’ mission. An outgrowth of this is the school’s collaboration with other institutions to provide young people and teachers with pathways for service in the wider Macau community, while also serving as a resource through activities such as teacher training, seminars and school exchanges.
All of these aspirations require practical means, and as a consequence the School of the Nations selects programs, methodologies and approaches that reflect the integration of high academic standards and the development of character and capacity for service.
In kindergarten and primary, the spiritual qualities and intellectual faculties of students are awakened and nurtured through a program focused on developing character alongside scientific, mathematical and linguistic capabilities. Between the ages of 12 and 15—a critical period when young people are acquiring the attitudes and attributes that will chart the courses of their lives—students develop a sound moral framework and ability to analyze society and the forces operating within it, while channelling their surging energies into service to the community. From the age of 15 onwards, young people are accompanied to take on a higher measure of responsibility to aid the development of those around them, especially younger youth and children.
Our efforts are also guided by the belief that science is a critical source of knowledge contributing to individual growth and the advancement of civilization, enabling humanity to rise above the animal state and unlock the secrets of nature. Science is studied by all students to a high level and emphasis is placed on developing capabilities to investigate reality with a humble posture of learning and cultivate scientific understanding, rather than simply acquiring techniques or facts. A scientific approach, when properly mastered, can be applied in the spheres of personal development and service to the community—not confined solely to the laboratory—and the school’s focus on cycles of study, action and reflection is one expression of this idea.
Another power that motivates us to continuously discover new treasures in our hearts and minds, refine our thoughts and conduct and strive for harmony in society and with nature is attraction to beauty. Whether it be in the context of nurturing in students eloquence of speech and the power of expression, the school’s emphasis on the arts, drama and music, the appreciation for the elegance of a scientific theory or the polishing of the gems of a noble character, the school cultivates attraction to beauty as an influence that draws students towards excellence.
In pursuing excellence, whether it is in studies, the arts, sports or service, young people discover fulfilment, confidence and joyfully develop useful skills. We see music as a ladder by which humanity can ascend and by whose power our spirits are uplifted. Sports and physical activity are incorporated as an integral part of school life, since they are an essential arena for developing qualities such as participation, cooperation and perseverance as well as contributing to physical well-being. In general, pursuing excellence helps young people to identify their talents, choose and focus on a career—something encouraged by School of the Nations and supported by dedicated staff. The development of a useful skill is key to enabling young people to become independent and useful members of the community, and as students pursue careers in a wide range of fields, they are equipped to uphold high standards and conduct themselves with integrity.
In terms of some of the other methods we employ, three examples that serve to demonstrate the application of the ideas expressed above are cooperative discipline, participation and service:
- Cooperative discipline: The school strives to implement cooperative discipline, an approach based on recognition of each student’s desire to connect with others, to contribute to his or her community and to feel capable. This approach avoids the pitfalls of both an excessively relaxed attitude to discipline that can border on neglect, and on the other hand of an overly regimented approach that quells the spirit and creativity of the child. It builds on mutual responsibility and enhances a sense of belonging.
- Participation: Active participation is encouraged and invited from all children at the school since participation in society and the school are intimately linked. Participation includes, for example, involvement in sports teams, musical productions and the school council but it also extends into the classroom where class sizes, study content and teachers' skills in using participatory and cooperative methods encourage children to reflect and express their understandings and take an active role in their own learning.
- Service: The School of the Nations seeks to provide opportunities for students to apply and contribute what they are learning through service to the surrounding community. As students grow in age and capacity, this service has included activities ranging from being of assistance to their families, to visiting and cheering the hearts of the sick and elderly, to teaching classes and serving as mentors for younger students, within and outside of the school. As experience is gained and capacity is developed, the nature of such service can become increasingly complex and profound.
The school's success in all these areas depends on the clarity and depth of understanding of this vision within the school community. Since our aspiration to integrate material and spiritual education is ambitious and there are few examples to follow, we have to be willing to clarify objectives and questions and then experiment with, and learn from, different approaches. Supporting staff to undertake cycles of study, planning, action and reflection is essential. In our interactions with parents, we seek to learn more about the unique attributes of each student and bring them into this process as partners, recognizing the comprehensive effort that is necessary for the healthy development of a child. We aim to be an organisation that is constantly learning and this requires from all of us a willingness to cope with ambiguity, to persevere and reflect, exercising patience and forbearance. In short, we must manifest the qualities we hope to see reflected in the students.