Educator blends cultures with curricula

June 10, 2013
Amy Dove
Sherman Jen’s educational network has grown to 30 schools in 18 years, and supports Chinese students wishing to continue their studies abroad.

Sherman Jen found inspiration in a Canadian classroom. His daughters started school in Vancouver and as he watched them engage in activities and take on projects in preschool and Grade 1, he noted the contrast to the Chinese system where young students primarily sat at their desks and listened to the teacher.

“This was so different and it had a very profound effect on my view of education,” he says. “It gave me the idea for a new model of education for China.”

He founded Maple Leaf Educational Systems in 1995, blending B.C. curriculum and teaching methods with traditional Chinese approaches to education. His first school, Dalian Maple Leaf International School, in Dalian, Liaoning Province opened in 1995 with 14 students. Maple Leaf Educational Systems has since expanded to 30 schools spanning preschool to high school with a student population of more than 12,500.

Classes are taught in Chinese and English and graduates receive high school diplomas from China and B.C. As Maple Leaf grew, Jen noticed changes in the Chinese educational system.

“Educational policy has become more and more open (in China) and the Maple Leaf educational model in fundamental (K–12) education has become much more accepted and seen as less of a threat to national education policy,” he says. “Maybe most significantly, before 1995 there were very few Chinese students studying abroad. Today more than 400,000 Chinese students study abroad, most for higher education.”

It is for those contributions to education and cross-cultural understanding that Royal Roads will recognize Jen with an honorary degree at spring convocation June 19.

“He gives his students an innovative learning experience that offers the promise of opportunity and demonstrates the power of sharing cultural discoveries,” says Allan Cahoon, president and vice-chancellor. “He is a visionary.”

Those opportunities are the true globalization of education, Jen says, noting it goes beyond sharing a language and into understanding a culture. “This is a most challenging model to maintain – it takes constant effort to understand each other – but it brings great opportunity,” he says. “Bringing people together and ending conflicts is at the heart of the blended model of global education. The world is full of conflict because people don’t understand each other.”

Learn more about Sherman Jen.


Honorary Degree nominations

The university is proud to welcome outstanding individuals into the Royal Roads community through the awarding of honorary degrees. Doctor of Laws, honoris causa recipients demonstrate a standard of excellence that inspires graduates and sets an example for positive change in the world.

Members of the public are invited to nominated individuals and full details about the process can be found here.