This is Dehong International School's second year taking part in The Big Draw Festival. Dehong's events are taking place throughout the week of 3rd - 7th of December, and involve students, teachers and parents taking part in the playful and detailed creation of kites!
We were thrilled to catch up with Lorraine Brett and find out more about Dehong International School, its philosophies, heritage and involvement with The Big Draw Festival! We also got to hear her opinion on the importance of Art, Play and Creativity in education, development and wellbeing. We hope you enjoy the interview!
Hello Lorraine! Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today. Let’s start by getting a bit of background into Dehong International Chinese School; Dehong is a sister school of the Dulwich College International Schools, and only opened its doors very recently, on 1st September 2017. Can you tell us about Dehong’s Heritage, and perhaps the origin of its name?
Dehong is a sister school of the Dulwich College International (DCI) schools and offers a combined programme comprising the Shanghai compulsory curriculum enhanced with the Dulwich educational philosophy and pedagogy. It is located in the Qizhong villa area of Maqiao, Minhang District, Shanghai, and opened its doors on 1 September 2017. “Dehong” is made up of the de (德) from dewei (德威) – the Chinese name for Dulwich College International – and the hong (闳) from Rong Hong（容闳）, who was the great-grandfather of a co-founder of DCI and the first Chinese-born student to graduate from an American university, Yale. He was a pioneer who made it his life’s work to educate future generations of Chinese students by bringing his experiences of international modernization to China.
In the United Kingdom, The Big Draw stresses the importance of adjusting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) to STEAM in the curriculum by the addition of an ‘A’ for Art, ensuring creativity is not neglected. I understand that within Dehong’s philosophies and objectives, there are 6C’s that you aim to develop in all of your students. One of these C’s stands for Creativity! What roles do art and creativity play in Dehong, and how they are tied into the curriculum?
The 6 C's are Confidence, Creativity, Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, Community; each have a critical role to play in the holistic development of our students. Creative pursuits such as The Big Draw enable our students to come up with innovative and original ideas, both in terms of self-expression and problem solving.
At Dehong a learning environment which is conducive to inquiry is very important, creating opportunities for children to explore the materials hands-on and learn through discovery.
At the core of good learning in art is aesthetic education, engaging students to be self-inquirers through exploration and experimentation. The hands-on nature of art naturally enables the power of creativity to transform children. This is especially true of young children where they can experiment with the texture and versatility of the materials, naturally learning through their innate sense of inquiry.
Could you share a little more about Dehong’s philosophies and objectives, and the significance of the 6C’s?
Our objective at Dehong is to become the leading international Chinese school in China and that our students will make positive changes around the world. While building a holistic personality in our students, we work towards engaging students to take pride in their Chinese heritage and culture while embracing other cultures and the international world we live in. Dehong seeks to enable students to fulfill the Dulwich philosophy of ‘Graduate Worldwise’.
Your Big Draw events this year, ‘Chinese Kites, taking flight from our past’, are taking place from the 3rd to the 7th of December and will be focussing on Kite-making, an art form which is believed to have originated in China. Can you tell us more about what’s in store for this year’s events?
All classes will be participating in The Big Draw Festival. Parents from each class will join to represent our wider community and in recognition of the essential role of parents in our educational journey. Working in China, we are enveloped in a vast and beautiful culture. While our students cherish their own cultural history, we seek to teach them to reach out and understand both other cultures and modern cultures.
Each student has been given their own kite to design and create decorative features on. While acknowledging the images of dragons and other Chinese elements in traditional kites, we have also explored zentangles, op art and the influence of artists work in our decorative features for the student’s kites.
We have explored word banks around flying such as soar, drift, hover, rocket, and many more. Students have directly experienced the joy of navigating their kite in flight and exploring the theme of ‘Play’.
The Big Draw Festival takes on a different theme every year; this year we have been celebrating the power of Play in the creative process, and its role in innovation, well-being and development. Do you think that a playful approach is important in an educational setting?
At Dehong, we value the power of Play and the positive impact it has on young learners. At the core of Play is engagement and fun; if the students are engaged and enjoying a lesson, they are naturally motivated and learning. Play also allows students to develop their creativity in conjunction with their imagination, dexterity and emotional resilience as well as their physical and cognitive strength.
This is Dehong’s second year organising events for The Big Draw Festival. What inspires you to take part? Are there any benefits in taking part in the Festival that you think potentially interested organisers should know about?
The Big Draw interests Dehong as an international event which brings together both parents and students to participate in a creative activity which recognises what is both different and unique about Chinese culture.
At Dehong we seek to explore the value of arts education in offering cross curricular integration for students within our school, while encouraging students to develop skills of transferring knowledge across subjects. While the Dehong curriculum has solidly laid its foundations with the robust curriculum of the Shanghai Bureau of Education, a combination of expat and Chinese teachers work in partnership to ensure both language and culture is fully explored in a diverse way.
Art as a subject has the capacity and cultural ingenuity to enable students to explore critical thinking, reflection and collaboration with other subjects, which can bring about cross-curricular activity. We seek to enable students to apply knowledge across curriculum subjects, to develop their cognitive ability to start to critically reconsider and analysis their content knowledge, to encourage problem solving from an earlier age, to encourage exploration and risk taking as a natural part of the Chinese students’ learning methods.
Thank you to Lorraine, and the team at Dehong Chinese International School!
Interview by: Matilda Barratt
Dehong Chinese International School is one of our Big Draw Festival 2018 Sponsor Partners.
The Big Draw's worldwide impact is made possible by the support of many organisations and individuals who share its vision. Without them and the commitment of hundreds of venues across the globe, our mission would be unachievable. Interested in becoming a festival Sponsor-Partner? Take a look here.
We hope you enjoyed our interview with Lorraine Brett! If you have been inspired by her insights why not become a part of the world's largest drawing festival in 2018 or 2019? It's not too late! Visit our Organise an Event page for guidance on getting started.