Keystone Academy: A New World School for the New World

Sep 09, 2013, 10:30 ET from Keystone Academy Beijing

BEIJING, Sept. 9, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Four years ago Ms. Yang Yanling, a Chinese woman and mother of two, began looking for a school to enroll her children. She did not find an ideal school at the time. Schools in China were either too traditional, with little emphasis on creativity and developing a well-rounded student, or they were too international, leaving Chinese children without a good foundation in their own language and culture. Schools overseas would force her to separate herself from her children and cut her children off from their cultural ties to China. She was not willing to accept these losses, especially at such a critical period in her children's development and maturation. This process of research, reflection, and analysis gave birth to her ideal of a dream education. Ms. Yang describes her dream as this: "I wanted a school for my children, a school that would offer them a world-class education and also educate them to be proud Chinese ambassadors. But I wanted a school of this quality for other Chinese children, not just my own, and for others from abroad who wish to find out about our wonderful culture and country."


In August 2014, with the opening of Keystone Academy in Beijing's Shunyi District to Chinese and international families, Ms. Yang, one of Keystone's principal benefactors and project planner of the school, will see her dream become a reality.

Keystone is led by Founding Head of School Mr. Malcolm McKenzie, a highly experienced and respected international educator who has been the visionary head of three major schools on three continents. These schools are Maru a Pula in Botswana, the United World College of the Atlantic in the United Kingdom, and the Hotchkiss School in the USA. He is accompanied by a team of educators from around the world who are all dedicated to his vision of building Keystone Academy into a "World School."

In his essay titled "Learning from the world and learning for the world: An essay on world schools," Mr. McKenzie defines this concept. He says, "Imagine national schools becoming the locals' world schools, bringing the world in various ways to local people and communities. Such schools would be characterized by students who are curious, who are trained to ask critical questions, who reach judgments after weighing wide-ranging evidence, and who can move when appropriate from one knowledge or epistemological system to another. Diverse and blended pedagogical styles would be encouraged in such schools. Students and teachers would be knowledgeable about the world, they would want to learn all the time from the world, but at the same time they would be learning for the world. They would, therefore, apply their learning to change our world for the better and to address the great challenges of our time. A deep sense of public purpose, of learning to serve, would be systemic in such schools. Above all, perhaps, they would develop a positive instinct for difference, and a desire to learn from otherness."

Keystone Academy will bring together the best of three great traditions of teaching and learning. The longest historically is the Chinese, which goes back millennia, and is renowned for its rigorous discipline, respect for the nature of learning, and concern with the development of character. Chinese traditions will be fused with the American discussion-centered, enquiry-based pedagogy and the best of the international education movement of the past 60 years with its focus on critical and creative thinking. Approximately three quarters of the school's students will be Chinese, and one quarter international. This is a group dynamic that will foster in its Chinese students deep cultural pride while at the same time teach them to be more world-minded, says Mr. McKenzie. International students will also expand their awareness by being immersed in the language and customs of the Chinese culture.

The school will offer the full range of grades from kindergarten through to grade 12, and will do so in a boarding, residential environment for those in the upper years. Tuition fees will be comparable to top-US boarding school fees, though the school will also feature a merit-based scholarship program to outstanding students from all over China whose families need assistance.

Keystone Academy's opening promises to be an important moment in history. For all that it represents to Ms. Yang, Mr. McKenzie and the Leadership Team, the Academy's potential impact on the Chinese and international education landscape is perhaps more significant. Mr. McKenzie sums it up best, "Having already worked on three continents, moving to Asia, and especially China, seemed a natural progression. Keystone truly is the opportunity of a lifetime, for me and for all who will learn, live and work here." Ms. Yang most certainly would not disagree.

Keystone Academy is a non-profit, philanthropic venture with a board of trustees. The Head of School and School Leadership Team are responsible for the daily operations of and major decisions for the school. For more information about Keystone, please visit the school's website at


Sabrina Liu

SOURCE Keystone Academy Beijing