Zhi Xing – Learning by Doing
At UWC Changshu China, Co-curricular Programme, also known as Zhi Xing is a fundamental part of UWC education. It takes its main structure and assessment criteria from the International Baccalaureate (IB) Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS) guidelines. At UWC, Zhi Xing has gone a step further to cultivate the qualities advocated by Kurt Hahn, founder of UWC, who said: “I regard it as the foremost task of education to insure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an undefeatable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self-denial, and above all, compassion.”
Zhi Xing is in alignment with the School’s commitment to Chinese language and culture, youth leadership and environmental activism. It serves as an integral part of teaching and learning in UWC's educational model by providing students with opportunities to develop and grow in a holistic manner through experiential learning. The name Zhi Xing comes from an ancient Chinese philosophy in which knowledge (Zhi) is seen as a valuable factor linked to human activity and the implementation of social practice (Xing). Well known Ming Dynasty educator Yangming Wang is a strong advocator of such belief. Western philosophy and education theories also resonate with core values of this ancient Chinese philosophy. From John Dewey’s “learning by doing” to UWC’s founder Kurt Khan’s learning principle of self-discovery through actions and reflections, the link between knowledge and action is seen as the link between an individual and the world. Zhi Xing therefore is a process rather than a product, a commitment to ongoing action and knowledge creation.
Zhi Xing is designed with a principle to build a solid structure of school organized activities and projects while allowing for well-considered and well-supported student initiatives. At present, there are 90 Zhi Xing set up by the students. The number is not important, rather it is the passion shown by the students to discover social issues and take actions to find solutions which is greatly encouraged and supported by the School.
Of all the strands of Zhi Xing, service stands out as one of the most transforming elements of UWC education that inspires generations of UWC students. Meaningful impact on individuals, on the community, and on the world are brought about and reflected upon constantly. At UWC Changshu China, students of all grade levels are required to participate at least in one yearlong service programs. Through service, students engage with local communities to leave positive impact to local school students, in particular, students in schools with limited resources, in arts, language classes and scientific experiments. Students work with NGOs in efforts to promote sustainability and animal protection.
Each year, students also travel to different parts of China on Project Weeks during which they truly get to know China, local people from rural areas, and its diverse culture through direct services. They also reflect upon Project Weeks and take various initiatives to help students in rural areas such as through offering remote online classes.
The value of the Service programme to the organisations and people our students interact with can be measured in many ways. But the greatest impact is on our students, as they put their ideals and values into action and grow as compassionate people and active agents of change.
As the only UWC in the mainland of China, the School puts heavy emphasis on Chinese language and culture learning. We offer a variety of Chinese Cultural Activities, ranging from performing arts such as dragon dance, lion dance and repertory theatre to musical arts such as traditional orchestra; from visual arts such as Chinese painting and calligraphy to martial arts. Students learn about Chinese culture first-handedly with support of contracted teachers and coaches as well as experienced student leaders. At the culminating event of Chinese Cultural Evening (CCE) each year, over 200 students from different countries present their Chinese experience through a magnificent show of performances. In the spring of 2017, number of audience to view CCE reached 16,000 thanks to live broadcast online. Learning of Chinese culture helps Chinese students shape clear cultural identity while forms international mindedness on their way to become 21st century global citizens.
Located on the bank of Kungcheng Lake, UWC Changshu China develops a strong watersports program and athletics program. Swimming lessons, lifeguard training, canoe polo, and scuba diving are offered in the pool. In addition, students could join open water kayaking, dragon boat, and sailing. Water sports program provides students with skill sets they would have found difficult to acquire elsewhere.
As a founding member of Suzhou Youth Athletic Conference, UWC Changshu China’s athletics program unites passionate athletes from different nations and cultures to develop physical wellbeing, self-confidence, tenacity to embrace challenge, team spirit, and a strong community. Those programs echo Kurt Hahn’s vision to allow young people abundant opportunities to build skills, maintain fitness, and practice self-discipline through sport activities.
Zhi Xing, Co-curricular Program, at UWC Changshu China is the education outside of classroom that enhances learning and growth. Through meticulous actions and ongoing reflections, students live out the values of UWC Movement. Through Zhi Xing, students have the chance to explore their talents, develop new skills and to be successful beyond the classroom. They also build leadership and social skills as well as an understanding of group dynamics. By trying out new things, they discover what they are good at, and are motivated to succeed. Most importantly, they experience both success and failure and learn to persevere. Students also develop understandings of themselves and of the world, cultivate growth and service mindset with a goal to become the agent for positive change.