Waylon：It’s my pleasure to have this interview! I was born in New Zealand. My hometown is Palmerston North, a small city with only about 90,000 people, I then went to the capital city, Wellington, for university and then to work. I graduated from Victoria University of Wellington, majoring in Economics and minoring in Finance. For my work experiences, I have done many jobs! I have tried to do a lot of different things while I was younger, to get more experiences and to broaden my perspective. I have been a music, ESL and business teacher, I have worked in sales and marketing and have run a business, and I have also worked in 4 different countries!
Waylon：I had a few reasons for coming to China. One was that my race is originally Chinese (all of my grandparents came from China), so I guess you could call me a 华人. Another reason was that I was interested in Chinese work culture, I have made many Chinese friends in New Zealand, Thailand and South Korea, so I always wants to work in China to experience the culture for myself. The final reason was that my girlfriend is Chinese! So I would like to visit her family and hometown.
Cornerstone HighSchool was interesting to me, as I was interested in the GAC program and with helping students prepare themselves to go abroad for university.
Waylon：First of all, it can help the students prepare for their university classes and projects abroad in an English speaking country, as GAC is taught in English. Another aspect which I like about GAC is that the AEs (Assessment events) aren’t all just tests. GAC includes presentations, reports and roleplays, which I believe can represent a student’s ability better than their test scores.
Waylon：The first one is their English level (listening, speaking and reading being the most important), as they will need it to communicate with others.
Aside from English, other skills are absolutely necessary as well, such as self-confidence, decision making, empathy, work ethic, negotiation, handling stress and having a positive attitude in life. I believe that those life skills can be more important than having high test scores.
I believe that GAC can help develop some of these skills, but more importantly it depends on their GAC teachers, rather than the GAC curriculum.
Waylon：As I just mentioned, GAC is very important. For all students, especially those with a low English level, I try to make them somewhat interested in the class. This can be through my teaching methods or even just through my energy or enthusiasm. If students can be interested in the class first, then they can fully achieve their learning potential.
Students with a weak English foundation need to be made interested in the language first. I believe that giving them a reason to be interested and excited about learning a language is much more effective than forcing them to do uninteresting and repetitive tasks. Speaking with these students at a level where they can understand is critical in class communication, and then gradually we would be able to increase our mutual English output.
Waylon：I believe that most Chinese students study harder than most western students during high school. They are able to spend more time in the classroom to listen to their teachers. I also believe that western students make more independent decisions, most of the time we choose for ourselves which subjects we would like to learn and which activities we would like to join.
If our students needed to learn from them, then I would say I would like for them focus on their hobbies a little more, to choose something they are really interested in and to make the conscious decision themselves to work hard at it. I think it can be a very rewarding experience. I also think that western students can learn a lot from our students as well! As our students are generally more polite and respectful, and also work harder in their studies.
Waylon：So far, I would have to say how great the students are. There are many smart, confident and mature students at Cornerstone that I am sure will have a great time abroad and will do very well in their lives.
Also I was surprised at how skilled some of our boys are at rapping and music. I have been producing songs with many Grade 2 students, and they can write songs and rap very well!
As for my suggestions for GAC students, first is to support each other more in class (only if your class isn’t already very supportive!). We are all learning from the same curriculum, so we can all help each other to learn and grow. I have seen classes like C3G3 support each other immensely every single day, it was beautiful to see and the results were great!
For my expectations, I don’t think that we need to ‘study harder’, but just think critically each day about a variety of topics at school and talk to your teachers and friends about it, don’t be afraid to ask why things are the way that they seem. School is a place to learn our school subjects, but we can still communicate about other important and interesting topics that are relevant to you.