by SFS student William Kim '23
Seoul Foreign School strives to "inspire a passion for learning" and "pursue academic and creative excellence," in accordance with our mission statement. To further provide students with a holistic educational experience, SFS has established its own Academic Quiz Team (AQT).
AQT trains to compete in quiz competitions, in which two teams compete head-to-head to accumulate the most points by answering rapid-fire questions on a wide variety of subjects—ranging from science, history, and literature to pop culture and sports. Rather than being a test of direct memorization and recall, the students must synthesize clues provided in a question to quickly, but accurately, arrive at an answer. These competitions' distinctive feature is the use of a buzzer system. Players can "buzz in" at any moment, even allowing them to interrupt the reading of a question, answer, and earn additional points. Similarly, the usage of a pyramid structure of questions that awards quicker response times and a deeper knowledge of a topic with additional points gives incentive for players to compete at a rapid and competitive speed. Their inclusion adds a layer of strategy, increasing the suspense and anticipation of what might otherwise be a tedious endeavor.
Since being an expert in all areas of knowledge may be difficult, AQT allows students to choose one main topic (literature, history, science) they will specialize in along with a few sub-topics, enabling them to concentrate their studies and keep them compatible with their interests. Michael Harvey, former SFS faculty member and the founder of our school's Academic Quiz Team, explains, "AQT will allow you to study what you want to study...realize how great that is." Building on knowledge gathered in school, students are able to dive deeper into any subject of their choosing, providing a unique opportunity for students to pursue their interests in a fun and high-stakes game-like setting. As Kate Choi—the co-captain of the high school program—puts forth, "Quiz is one of the most, if not the most, entertaining ways to gain knowledge."
The Academic Quiz Team also allows every student to engage in a meaningful way. Alex Kil, another pillar of the "A" team, recollects, "Whenever I joined sports teams, I, and many other players, would simply be 'bench-warming' and not play in actual games. Of course, any passion I had for the game would quickly dissipate after just a few practices." Instead, on the verge of giving up, he turned to AQT where he found a place for himself: with its system of constant exposure, every student, regardless of skill, is constantly engaged and participating in scrimmage matches during practices.
Even outside of pure content, AQT also helps students develop a wide range of universally applicable skills. As with any team activity, each player has the responsibility to perform at their best and to not disappoint the rest of the team. Philip Hart, DP/MYP Spanish teacher and the High School team's coach, describes that "many beginner players often don't answer as many questions as they can in fear of getting it wrong." However, as students become more comfortable, they start taking more risks and answering more often. Even if they answer some questions incorrectly, they learn that it's okay to make mistakes and that neither they nor anyone else will be perfect. Claire Haigh, the Grade 9 star of the A Team, admits, "It's easy to get hung up on getting a question wrong. With the support of your teammates and coach, you will learn to pick yourself up and launch yourself at the next question."
AQT also encourages the use of critical thinking by requiring players to use inductive reasoning while answering questions. Rather than regurgitating facts that they memorize, competitors must make educated guesses based on the small hints that they are given. Becoming increasingly relevant as students transition into the Middle Years Programme (MYP) and Diploma Programme (DP), AQT can give them an upper hand in developing this crucial skill. Similarly, as teams participate in groups of four, players develop strong collaboration and communication skills; not only do they have to discuss and answer certain questions collectively under extreme time pressure, but they must also take one another's strengths and weaknesses into account while supporting each member, leading to a bond amongst the A-Team members.
With the tenacity that our school's Academic Quiz Team has displayed, along with the support of their coaches and parents, the Middle and High School A-Teams have recently won first place in the Middle School Asian Championship and second place in the Asian Winter League Online Tournament, respectively. They have also dominated Korea-based tournaments with both teams consistently bringing strong results. Now, they prepare for the 2021 High School and Middle School National Championship Tournaments, a step closer to becoming some of the best teams globally. Tobias Kim, the Middle School AQT coach, says, “AQT is a fantastic avenue to chase down your passions for competition in an academic setting. The same passion that drives students to succeed in tournaments will ultimately help them succeed in life.”
As Mathilde Doherty, the team's captain explains, she joined AQT with no intention of playing until she graduated, having no inkling that she'd one day become the program's captain, a sentiment every one of her teammates shared before they started participating. AQT provides a platform for any and all students to succeed; rather than comparing yourself to our A-Team—who now has years of experience, practice, and awards under their belts—consider that they, like you, once took a risk and joined the team without much prior knowledge. "Just try coming to one of our practices," Kate encourages. "It changed my life. It can change yours as well."
- The Banner