The Middle Way between Faith-Based and Secular Education: Teaching Spiritual Practices in a World Religions Class

2013-09-12 06.45.37Visiting the Su Bong Monastery in Causeway Bay is an important part of our Buddhism unit, and illustrates the third way approach between faith-based and academic religious education paradigms. The Zen Buddhist teachers at the center instruct our students how to breathe, meditate, chant, and do prostrations, which fit in well with the spiritual practices emphasis that I use in my World Religion classes. This experiential pedagogy is a practical example of how our “religion education” philosophy can be used to study religion at HKIS. Continue reading

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HKIS Hosts the 8th Annual Service Summit

DSC_3643On Saturday, January 10, HKIS hosted the 8th annual Service Summit. Our 90 9th graders heard presentations from our “Free the Children” speakers Mark and Joanna who  kicked-off the event with an inspiring keynote. Then they selected five break-out sessions to attend out of 27 presentations, most conducted by older HKIS students who had done their own successful projects. We are also proud to say that half a dozen alumni were among the presenters, showcasing their own causes that they remain involved in. Continue reading

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A Turn Towards the Vertical: Best Books and Resources of 2014

2015-01-11 03.27.38 Introduction

As I turned 50 last month, perhaps it’s not surprising that the best books/resources for me during this past year involved the spiritual life. As I’ve been writing for some time on this blog, this aspect seems to be the necessary complement to my emphasis on social conscience education. Continue reading

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Beyond Holistic Education: A Pedagogy of Spiritual Activation

DSC_3623This semester’s “Service, Society, and the Sacred” class studied a wide range of topics: depression, suicide, technology, the future, Asian and Western ways of thinking, Spiral Dynamics, the Enneagram, meditation, and spiritual practices. Despite this organic and at times non-sequitur approach to the curriculum, the three constants were self-awareness, creating a class community, and contributing beyond the classroom to others. The enthusiastic response by students to the class has made me wonder what made it work. It certainly wasn’t the linear delivery of a curriculum. Upon reflection, perhaps there was more to what happened than meets the pedagogical eye, as I share in this entry. Continue reading

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“Left to Their Own Devices” by Kate Whitehead about The App Generation (South China Morning Post, December 2, 2014)

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 9.35.47 PMindexThis summer I picked up Howard Gardner and Katie Davis’ book The App Generation: How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World (2013). As I read, I thought that this would be a thought-provoking way to start my “Service, Society, and the Sacred” class by studying how technology is impacting youth culture. The students responded to the three research-based chapters – on identity, intimacy, and imagination – with thoughtful analyses. We also did a debate about technology and the future. I wrote up a  summary of their reactions and sent their comments to the two authors. Howard wrote back immediately; he was quite pleased to have students, for the first time, provide their perspectives on the research findings rather than adults only. Continue reading

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Using Contemporary Memoirs to Teach Genocide


Humanities I in Action is a course that challenges students to deeply consider their place in the world, and, in the end, to contemplate action steps to bring healing. However, this noble pursuit requires traversing a dark path. During the first semester in Humanities I in Action our in-class study considers the dark side of the human condition through William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies, various psychological and sociological experiments, and the study of genocide. Continue reading

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The Question for Hong Kong Protesters: Principle or Pragmatism

BN-DM986_hkprot_G_20140701220857Despite Occupy Central’s high profile threats to carry out an “era of civil disobedience,” Hong Kong protesters still have taken this city by surprise in the last 8 days, the largest student-led demonstrations on Chinese soil since 1989. The crucial question facing protesters now is what comes next. Continue reading

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