From classroom to community: power of experiential learning at Wellington

Matthew Lowish
"As teachers, our most important responsibility is preparing our pupils for an uncertain future," says Matthew Lowish, assistant head of Senior School at Wellington.
Matthew Lowish
From classroom to community: power  of experiential learning at Wellington
Ti Gong

Pupils from Wellington College International Shanghai have a good time with local children during a trip to the Dong Autonomous Prefecture in southwestern Guizhou Province.

At Wellington College International Shanghai, our vision is to help our pupils become learners, connectors and changemakers.

Our curriculum provides them with ample opportunities to engage with the wider world. We want our children to learn what it means to be a citizen of the world. This means exploring relevant and actionable subject matter, such as the key issues laid out in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

All Wellington pupils in Years 9 through 11 study "Global Perspectives" as a core course. It is a skills-based course that also encourages pupils to investigate a global issue they are passionate about and then produce a research report detailing the causes, consequences and courses of action from a range of global, national, local and even personal perspectives.

This year, topics of focus have included: the contamination of our oceans; the ethical use of AI; the problems faced by refugees; the gender pay gap in sports; and many more.

As part of the course, pupils work in teams to devise, plan, fund, carry out and evaluate an action project. This element of service learning saw our Year 10 pupils travel to the Dong Autonomous Prefecture of southwestern Guizhou Province to learn more about the local culture, connect with local people and enact meaningful projects that will have a positive impact on the local community.

Our Year 8 Pupil Leadership Team and our International Baccalaureate CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service) pupils will also travel to the same region to continue developing links with local rural primary schools, raising funds and spending time with left-behind children.

Charity is a vitally important element of pupil leadership at Wellington. Our pupils are actively engaged in raising awareness and funds for a range of local charities. They raise funds and awareness, through activities like bake sales and stalls at annual college events. The college also recently celebrated the Earth Month with a range of activities organized by our student-led sustainability committee.

Our co-curricular activities program also offers many opportunities for engagement.

Model United Nations is a great example. Pupils research global and geopolitical issues from a specific national viewpoint. They then construct and discuss resolutions to solve these problems. It's about diplomacy rather than competition, dialogue rather than debate.

Our MUN pupils have participated in five conferences this academic year, travelling to Oman and New York and even hosting our own conference at Wellington in March. A total of 250 delegates from 11 different local schools joined us.

As teachers, our most important responsibility is preparing our pupils for an uncertain future.

By encouraging them to think globally and act locally, we empower the pupils to use their education for the greater good as learners, connectors and changemakers.

(Matthew Lowish is assistant head of Senior School at Wellington College International Shanghai.)

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