Pathways To Learning Hong Kong Registered School 566985 & 600733
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Ingredient X

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After eight years in rented commercial spaces in Kennedy Town, The Harbour
School scored quite a coup by being awarded the last school site on Hong Kong
island by the EDB in 2015. In the last 18 months, I’ve spent many hours thinking,
researching, planning the tangibles that make up a school - how can we optimise
these new spaces for learning, what can we design into the space to make learning
more engaging?


The happy result is we now have three campus environments designed to empower
teaching and learning at THS.

A 21st century school

Technology is one of the key enablers of the unique learning experience we have
crafted for THS students. Our youngest students hone their senses and reflexes on a
multi-sensory augmented reality wall at the Harbour Village. THS secondary school
campus, the Garden, features a state of the art science lab kitted with digital
microscopes. The Grove has the latest gee-whiz tech classroom tools, a world-class
marine science centre, a makerspace with sensors and Arduino kits for building
robotics, 3D printers and laser cutters, and a giant, interactive and programmable
globe hangs as the piece de resistance in the new library.


But handing every student and teacher a laptop or tablet will not magically usher our
classrooms into the future, just as equipping every classroom with a 3D printer
cannot transform every student or teacher into a maker. It’s also next to impossible
to keep up with the arms race that is today’s pace of technological innovation. As
soon as you’ve installed the latest smart TV and digital whiteboard in the classroom,
you can be sure that a more advanced iteration has already rolled out of the factory.


Which brings us to our Ingredient X - our very diverse body of students.

Real individuals, Real Problems, Real Solutions

When students walk into the classroom, they do not become different people. Their
likes and preferences follow them and in this new dawning era, today’s digitally
connected learner is increasingly challenging the traditional notions of school, of
teaching and learning.


This is where THS is different from so many other schools in Hong Kong. Even more
important than learning to solve problems is learning to notice problems and feeling
empowered to make a difference. We don’t have to make up problems for our
students – the world (and life) has plenty for them. We give our students the
autonomy, time, resources and respect to pursue projects that interest them. We hire
very specifically for teachers who understand our ‘learn and adapt” approach and
culture of trust, support and collaboration with students. THS teachers are not
lecturers but facilitators, and they understand that integrating student-led learning
and dialogue is critical.

As a result, our students take on a much more involved and active learning role.
They deep dive, daily, into hands-on projects - some assigned by school but most
developed themselves - which require critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity,
and teamwork - gaining what is popularly referred to as 21st century skills but are in
essence, important interpersonal and thinking skills which we will need in any
century.


For example, our Middle School students - after meeting with some dwellers of
subsidized housing and experts in architecture - designed and built a working
prototype housing solution which addresses many of the difficulties faced. Another
team of seventh graders created an app to address Hong Kong’s problem with trash,
winning Hong Kong’s Technovation Challenge Best Presenter Award. A team of 5 th
graders embarked on a longitudinal study of Hong Kong’s waters by using the
school’s outdoor classroom – THS’s 50-foot sailboat called the Black Dolphin – to
monitor the waters around the site for Hong Kong’s new incinerator on Shek Kwu
Chau on the south side of Lantau island.


Hence, creating compelling and flexible learning spaces equipped with state of the
art technologies does immediately make a school an innovative one. The most
important ingredient is to create the opportunities and culture to allow our students -
all our students without cherry-picking and judgement - the freedom for creative
expression and to chase the questions they have.