Saturday, 10 December 2016
KIS ...a school filled with smiles and laughter.
I believe, quite simply, that I have not only one of the best, but one of the most important, jobs in the world. I arrive each day at our school campus impassioned about spending my days among a splendidly diverse, always inspirational cohort of students, and about working with a team of top-flight professionals from around the world who have chosen to devote their lives to teaching young people how to think and to learn.
When I was appointed as Principal of the Korean International School I said to the Board of Governors that “ I want to make our school an 'oasis in the heart of Hong Kong' that when you walk in you feel that this is a place where everyone cares, a happy school filled with smiles and laughter. ”Why? I believe that if my students are happy they will want to learn and want to come to school. How will I encourage this?
Well: they will be engaged with their learning, and that that learning is meaningful. The students will follow a well -structured fast paced UK curriculum which the teachers and I will monitor and which is unique. This curriculum we follow, is distinctive of today for the world of tomorrow it is customised for your children’s needs.
My/our teachers are my/our best resources. Our teachers will provide many memorable experiences and rich opportunities for high quality learning and well-being. The curriculum on it’s own doesn’t do anything it is the teachers who make the difference. I believe all students can be successful no matter what their background or capabilities. At KIS we give students confidence. Our teachers inspire hope, ignite the imagination and instil a love of learning. I believe that teachers are like the 3 ARE’s ; teachers are important ...Teachers are influential ...Teachers are able to make a difference.At KIS we will pay close attention to assessing where the students are in their learning and where they should be: we never stop exploring and investigating.
What is remarkable about schools like KIS is that every year we say goodbye to our 18 year olds who go off to universities all around the world whilst at the same time we welcome RC students who are only 4-year old who are embarking on their own personal learning journey both through education and ultimately life. These Reception students starting this academic year will be, by my calculations, the graduating class of 2030! What will the world be like then? How can we prepare these students for that unknown?
What will schools look like then?
We don’t know the answers to these questions, but we need to try and ensure that we do teach them to be; collaborative, curious, critical thinkers and creative problem-solvers as well as good people; an old-fashioned notion, but a really important one! The needs of our students are what drives us, motivating us to do better and be better for them.
To me it is clear that In KIS we are proud of the achievements of our students. the most important thing is that they achieve at their level, they maximize their potential. academic excellence for each individual is different and we pride ourselves on being able to support, nurture and encourage our students. so our students make progress in many areas, whether that be academic, sporting, the arts-all are crucial to the development of our students to make a valid contribution as global citizens.
I believe that academic excellence in school can be individualized to allow each child to reach their academic potential while becoming well-rounded, healthy and happy learners. Learning should be done in a safe, challenging and fun environment that infuses host country culture while celebrating and appreciating individual identity. We as educators have the responsibility to craft the experiences for all children to be successful in the 21st century and beyond.
The Korean International School, for me and my wife, Jenny represents a terrific opportunity and an exciting challenge. My wife and I are looking forward to the prospect and the opportunity to contribute to the trajectory of excellence . It is a complex school with lots of moving parts but has great ambitions.
With the many job applications I have made over the last year and interviews attended I had to crystalise and express my educational philosophy which I share with you now...it is written from the perspective of a teacher, a head of school and from my own personal experience as a life long learner. If I were to narrow it down to one sentence, it would be ...a quote from Kurt Hahn, founder of the United World Colleges: “There is more in you than you think.”
When I think about who has had the most influence on my own life, it has always been those who made me see that there is more in me than I ever thought possible my teachers, my coaches and my educators. What they all have in common is not just that they thought I could achieve more than I thought possible myself, they built a relationship with me that made all this happen!
They knew that intelligence, in the multiple ways that it can be imagined, is not a single characteristic fixed at birth. Instead, it represents many things that can be developed, and best developed by having and instilling in others what Carol Dweck at Stanford calls a growth mindset.If you have a growth mindset, you embrace challenges because they make you stronger, failure is seen as an opportunity to learn, intentional effort is recognized as a pathway to mastery, feedback is a critical friend for your improvement and the successes of others are a source of inspiration. I agree with her.
As the head of a school, and now Principal I believe it is my role to create the conditions and the culture that will nourish the quality of the relationships between student and teacher and among all members of the community. I also believe that everyone in a school is both a learner and an educator in search of meaning and purpose. In the context of both developing human potential and contributing to a sustainable future for this century and well beyond, I also believe these values are critical: mutual understanding and respect, the joy of learning, purposeful effort and a commitment to diversity.
If I were to edit Kurt Hahn’s quote so that it has more of a sense of inclusiveness and recognizes that we are all part of a single interconnected world with the capacity to make a difference, it would be:
“There is more in us than we think.”
It is with this in mind that I am passionate about continuing to be a part of developing the full potential of the mind, body, heart and the world we share. Leading a school such as KIS is a great way to make this happen. With my aim to create an oasis in the heart of HK ...that could become a school of choice where we shape the next generation.
Principal of the International Section
August 16, 2016