Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
‐ Nelson Mandela
Why do I teach? The question is neither rhetorical nor philosophical. It is a matter of passion and unequivocal desire to truly make a difference. The joy and satisfaction that I feel when after years I meet my former students, and in some cases even their children, makes me believe, ‘I have fought a good fight.’
Something has shifted over the years though. A couple of decades ago, we had a community of learners who truly wished to learn and was not just focused on the grade. The skills that they wished to learn were the key focus rather than only an A+. We recognised potential and worked accordingly with each individual. The goal was to be able to send out citizens to the world who were altruistic and a credit to society at large. The parental pressure of today was virtually non‐existent.
The truly diverse nature of our student body was a huge advantage for cross‐cultural learning but therein lay the rub, the transient nature of the populace left us with the task of constant rebuilding and creating smarter assimilation strategies. The focus was on making the child perform to their potential. Exceptional cases did exist, but they were truly exceptions!
Today while the world grapples with how AI will shift education going forward, I look back and wonder – have the pressures of the grades slowly chiselled away at the altar of learning? Is this the reason why the likes of Chat GPT seem to be throwing up more ethical concerns regarding their usage rather than a celebration of how they can support education?
If we continue to believe in the power of human interaction and in the knowledge that technology cannot replace human thinking in its entirety, we can continue to inspire and be inspired. It is time to rediscover the love of true learning! And it is with this positivity that I choose to look ahead.
We remain an inclusive school. The temptation to go selective is immense but that would be surrendering to the lure of the easy. It would rob many of us of the challenge that we took on to make a success of the students in our care. In their success lies our victory. And it is this that gives the countless hours and the sacrifices meaning.
A successful diploma for a struggling child sometimes brings greater joy than a perfect score. We endeavour that through our authentic IB and IGCSE experience we help and develop independent thinkers and learners. We wish to see them successful later in life through college and their chosen vocation and to draw on the skills and life’s lessons learnt in the form room, the common room, the playfield, the cafeteria, the tuck shop, on the stage in the auditorium or the amphitheatre, during class trips etc. We continue to challenge the status quo, adopt, adapt and collaborate, and strive to build character, above all else.
I end with these lines shared by Margaret Heffernan in her recent article titled ‘Schools should teach curiosity, not careerism’ in The Financial Times, ‘To grow in a fast changing, unpredictable environment, we need a population that loves learning, whose curiosity about the world is stimulated not by a fear of failing tests but a life-long passion for invention and discovery.’