The “What if?, Why not?” Concept in Curriculum Innovation: An Authentic PBL-Overseas Education Program in the 21st Century

By John Roger M. Maghuyop Xavier School

Imagine going on a field trip. Sounds fun, right? Well, the word field trip itself is already exciting to hear but WHAT IF having it for a span of SIX WEEKS OVERSEAS? Surely, this will become more awesome! Because WHY NOT? It is truly a great way of having learning and travel goals in one. Most students are in great favor for field trips because of the thin line that separates it from the leisure of traveling.

Through this kind of educational activity, students find learning much more relevant because of its real-world feature and direct access to environmental tools. Many studies had proven that field trips, as a unique dimension of learning, provide greater educational impact among students.

In Xavier School, the role of field trip manifested in a special educational program overseas serves more than what meets the eye -making each Xaverians embody the racial identity of the school.

What is XCE?

To instill the Chinese identity of Xavier school among its students, there can never be more qualifying strategy that to bring them in the land where it originated – the great China, through the program Xavier China Experience or XCE. This is a unique, carefully designed overseas experience unlike other language and cultural immersion programs.

Every year, for six weeks during the Third Quarter for Grade 8, Grade 10 and Grade 12 or for five weeks during the summer for Grade 11 IB, participants are engaged into activities from learning Mandarin to going on field trips that expose them to the Chinese society and culture.

How Can XCE Program and PBL as a Pedagogy Fit Together?

In order to maximize the experience, the XCE Academic Program makes use of Project Based Learning (PBL) which focuses on a transdisciplinary approach, through which students are able to gain the necessary knowledge and skills necessary in order to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge over an extended period of time.

The outcome of the project is then explained and displayed in the form of a public product. The approach aims to develop students’ critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and self- management skills. The Ignatian characteristics of discernment and contemplation-in-action shall also be emphasized in the hope of creating deeper connections and meanings for the students’ with their experiences during their XCE.

Therefore, other than tourists, students are given the role as local citizens and community leaders looking through the features of China as a nation (in the lens of academic disciplines) that can later be adapted in the setting of the local community they belong.

The Heart and Soul of the Program

The program’s main objectives are to provide our students the real-world environment that will motivate them to learn Chinese language and culture, plus the unique opportunity to develop skills of leadership, the habit of reflection, and a mindset of global citizenship. We’ve found this immersive experience fosters values of self-reliance, teamwork, and openness to all things new.

Four XCE trips have been developed and made available to our students, each with distinct learning and formation goals.

  • Grade 8 (Fujian) – cultural heritage
  • Grade 10 (Yunnan) – ecology and cultural diversity
  • Grade 12 (Beijing) – sustainable development and global citizenship
  • Grade 11 IBDP (Beijing/Summer Trip) – exploring opportunities studying abroad and enhancement of their Mandarin

The program’s main objectives are to provide our students the real-world environment that will motivate them to learn Chinese language and culture, plus the unique opportunity to develop skills of leadership, the habit of reflection, and a mindset of global citizenship.

An Authentic Education Program & Promoting the Habit of Reflection Towards Holistic Development of Our Learners

Back in 2004, the first XCE program was executed with only sixty brave pioneer students from Grade 7. For the last ten years, the XCE has expanded to include the high school seniors in 2008 and sophomores in 2011. To date, nearly 4,500 students have participated in at least one of the three XCE trips.

Students are now required to attend at least one program as a condition for graduation from high school. This means that spending five to six weeks of one’s schooling in China has now become a defining feature of the Xavier Education.

In knowing a great place such as China, XCE offers a deeper value of education and culture. More than just visiting prominent tourist destinations, its program can bring participants on a thorough and holistic exploration wherein upon knowing China, students can build their personal connection to it as they maximize their role as local citizens and community leaders. So, what’s your say? XCE is definitely a field trip worth their effort and time.

John Xavier School

Contributing Author:

Mr. Roger Maghuyop is the current Curriculum Leader for Filipino subject learning area in the Senior High School and the IBDP Extended Essay Coordinator of Xavier School. He earned his Master’s degree in Education, and majored in Educational Leadership and Management at De la Salle University. To date, he is the current assistant team leader for academics for this year’s Xavier-China Experience (XCE) Grade 12 Beijing Program and one of his tasks is to ensure that the curriculum and the program is effectively running and to ensure that the problem-based learning is implemented well.

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