Educators from Beijing to visit school, examine AP math, science curriculum

By Lara Sokoloff

Six teachers from a Beijing high school will observe Harvard-Westlake AP classes from late September through early October as part of an effort to establish their own AP curriculum.  

“I think it’s flattering that a school on the other side of the world had heard enough and learned enough about our way of doing school to want to learn from us,” President Tom Hudnut said. “I thought it was pretty much a no-brainer actually because it is difficult for me to imagine why someone wouldn’t want to be helpful in these situations.”

As a member of the World Leading School Association, Harvard-Westlake has built a relationship with Beijing No. 12 High School, one of the best high schools in Beijing, Associate Head of School and Head of Athletics Audrius Barzdukas said. 

The principal and vice principal of Beijing No. 12 visited Harvard-Westlake last year, and Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts has visited their school. The educators will visit from Sept. 28 to Oct. 5.

Our results on AP tests and our teachers’  reputations drew Beijing No. 12 to Harvard-Westlake, Barzdukas said. 

The Chinese educators will sit in on AP classes and rotate between a number of teachers, taking notes on methods, pedagogy and questions. The visit will culminate with a seminar that focuses on teaching philosophy, Barzdukas said.  

“They’re coming here to, in a sense, participate in the best practices workshop where essentially they want to see how our AP teachers teach their classes, and then have discussions about philosophy, pedagogy and content as it relates to AP teaching,” Barzdukas said. 

Most of the teachers will be science and math teachers because that is where Beijing No. 12 has chosen to begin, Hudnut said.

“There is no point in them offering AP English Literature right off the bat,” he said. “I think their focus will be in the quantitative subjects.”

Hudnut said he hopes Harvard-Westlake educators will be able to travel to Beijing No. 12 during spring break to view the progress on their own AP curriculum.

“I think that any western school looks to Asian schools for what they can get from them,” Hudnut said. “This is sort of a turn on that in that it’s an opportunity for us to give something to them. It is very hard to say that there is much in it for us other than to extend our name and fame in the world of pedagogy in the other side of the Pacific Ocean, but I think that’s worth something.”