Letter to Prospective Yungu Students and Parents
Dear Prospective Yungu Students and Parents,
Thank you for your interest in Yungu High School. Over a career spent mostly in New England boarding schools—Phillips Exeter, as student; Phillips Andover, as teacher; Deerfield, as Academic Dean—two developments have shaped my educational priorities. First, recent research has revealed much more about how brains work and how students learn; and we have a new understanding of “best practice.” At each school, I’ve strived to change educational practice; but that’s very difficult in established schools—particularly ones with over 200 years of success. So for me, building Yungu high school on what we currently understand to be best practice is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Second, I have become increasingly concerned about the mental health of young people; and my concerns intensified during three years in Shenzhen. Students are experiencing distress—particularly in the college admission process—which distracts them from learning. At Yungu, student health and happiness are primary; and that starts with giving students choices. Grade 9 students tell me they appreciate the choices Yungu gives them—which clubs, activities and summer opportunities to pursue; and in high school, what, where and how long to study—because, even though they’re busy, they feel less stress doing what interests them. This is music to my ears. If we can help students manage and channel their stress productively, students, parents and teachers will all be healthier and happier.
Yungu high school’s five-day boarding program will offer plenty of daily opportunities for students to learn by making choices. While they won’t always make the best ones, it’s good for them to practice while they have Yungu’s caring faculty to provide a safety net of feedback and support. With each choice, students define and develop their passions and interests, forge their identities, build their character and shape their futures.
Grade 9 students also report that they enjoy their academic courses: teachers engage them with student-centered activities requiring collaboration, such as project-based learning; and homework is meaningful and challenging. We believe that students learn best by doing; and Yungu high school will treat students as fellow scholars alongside teachers doing the work of each field: inquiry-based science; problem-based math; seminar-based social science, English and Chinese; music composition and painting. Students will experience each subject as potential professionals.
As they progress through the curriculum, students will build on a foundation of XueKao courses—preparing them to earn the National Diploma—and then grapple with “international” courses such as Economics, Psychology, Philosophy and college-level math and science. As their individual interests clarify, many will choose to pursue specialized tracks such as STEM, Arts, Humanities, or Entrepreneurship. Whatever path they choose, students will engage in research and ultimately a Grade 12 original capstone project that requires them to apply what they’ve learned to benefit society. By graduation, Yungu students will be creative, critical thinkers and innovators ready to help people live better.
If student health is primary; and if you value students making choices, following their interests and passions, deepening their Chinese identities, and becoming responsible global citizens and leaders, then Yungu high school might be a good choice. For now, thank you for considering Yungu; and we hope to hear from you.
Head of Yungu High School