ISHCMC: Rethinking Education in Saigon
Today’s children are tomorrow’s movers and shakers. This has been a belief central to the philosophy of International School Ho Chi Minh City (ISHCMC) since 1993. As the first international school in the city and the first school in Saigon to adopt the International Baccalaureate style of teaching, ISHCMC’s students enjoy an average class size of just 20 and a 100 percent university acceptance rate.
Rather than structuring classrooms in the traditional lecture-question-answer format, ISHCMC’s teachers use innovative educational techniques and state-of-the-art facilities to create a unique environment that fosters creativity, independent thinking, collaboration and a healthier approach to success and failure.
So when the ISHCMC team set to work planning the construction of their second campus – which will be open for the first semester of the 2017/18 school year – they knew they had a big job to do.
A Hyper-Interactive Learning Space
Incorporating movement into lessons has proven to be a key element to the way classrooms should be set up – recent studies have shown that kids learn better while moving. In fact, sitting still for extended periods, the common method of teaching worldwide, has been shown to degrade academic performance. This is just common sense: kids love being active, so why not integrate this into their learning experience?
ISHCMC has built classrooms to encourage movement and collaboration from the ground up. To help with all this is a centralised purified air system that helps maintain a healthy, clean environment for an optimal learning experience.
Whiteboard walls and interactive projectors replace the traditional forward-facing board. Students can now go up and write on their classroom walls while brainstorming, and see what others have written to help with their own ideas.
For such a setup to work, movable classroom furniture has been installed. Desks can be extended, wheeled around and attached to one another. This offers many fun and useful desk arrangements to suit each lesson’s needs. Say, the class is in a model U.N. debate; students can arrange their desks in a roundtable format for an immersive experience.
A Room of One’s Own
A degree of risk is necessary for any student to figure out what they want to dedicate their life to, which is something ISHCMC is aiming for with its new campus and its dedicated facilities. Risk encourages experimentation and innovation, while reminding children that they can learn and grow from failure.
The facilities include a music studio where students can experiment at any time with sounds, along with band rooms, orchestra rooms, a film studio, a 350-seat theatre and design and technology workshops that include laser cutting and robotics.
A food technology room introduces kids to nutrition and cooking, which is becoming a lost art. It aims to promote self-sustenance, encourages healthy eating and helps kids understand where their produce is coming from. It also aims to start a parent cafe, with kids serving restaurant-style meals to visiting adults.
Additionally, a 240 m2 science garden is set up on the roof, where they can plant seeds, grow plants for food and see what types of gardens are effective in urban environments. Perhaps the most important addition is the mindfulness space. Counsellors will always be available to the students, emphasizing mental health and well-being during conflicted periods of childhood.
Building Ideas upon Ideas
The new ISHCMC campus also takes things a step further with a two-storey Innovation Centre. Similar to Google’s offices, where some spaces are designed to encourage employees to interact and share ideas, ISHCMC’s Innovation Centre provides an environment where ideas can slowly form over time as students pass through. New thoughts can be written on a wall and left there for others to see, comment upon and modify.
ISHCMC is fervently putting these facilities in place. With its investment in this new campus, the school raises the bar for international-level education in the region.
First Campus: 28 Vo Truong Toan Street, District 2
New Campus: 1 Xuan Thuy Street, District 2
Phone: +84 (8) 3 898-9100