Tuesday, April 27, 2010

From the Desk of a Principal

Three years of PYP journey made us cross many milestones.

Making PYP actually happen since the preliminary visit in June 2007,
Passing through the 'lens' of the pre-authorization visit team in April 2009, and then...

Invitation from the IBO to give 1 hour presentation to an international audience on our good practices and uniqueness...

...Crossing Milestones has become a pleasure for the team @ Silver Oaks !

When the IBO mailed to all the IB schools in the Asia Pacific region about the Annual regional conference in March’10, I felt that I must attend to learn from the IB community of educators.

All the schools were also asked if they would like to present their school’s experience during the conference.

However all the applications would go through a rigorous selection procedure of a committee who will scrutinize to see if these presentations are worth being given a time during the conference.

I learnt one lesson from Dr Kalam. Aiming small is a crime. Though we are only 3 years old in the PYP journey, I certainly believed that the transition of a conventional school to a progressive school is worth sharing in the conference.

I prepared a brief in 200 words and to my pride, the committee approved my presentation and gave me one hour to share my experiences.

My topic was ‘groom contributors to the society , not just consumers’

I landed in Singapore on the 23rd (March'10) morning and attended a pre-conference dialogue session with George Walker who has been the
Director General of IBO for 6 years.

Besides his experience on consolidating IB in different countries we had an interesting time discussing the western humanistic values vs eastern perspectives.

We also talked about how Asia is taking up IB methodology more keenly and how far eastern countries are reluctantly opening their doors to western education.

I still remember a colleague from UK commenting on how Indians are fascinated with US education and jobs and pointed out that it is solely because inadequate Indian education system.

I felt offended but had to contend with the reality in his comment.

To everybody’s surprise many Indian schools are fast catching up with IB methods.
Their observation is that globalization has led to change in perspectives on education and more and more people are realizing the value of meaningful education than quantitative education as is followed in India.

However another British colleague commented that ‘vast content and exhaustive examination system’ is a colonial legacy that India is still following.

An American working in Japan for the last 10 years gave a presentation on the Japanese education policy which has a humanistic priority

Wa -Harmony deep connection with self and others
Omoiyari-consideration of others
Kyaryaku-cooperation with others
tomodachi-friendship and a sense of belonging
Shisei - sincerity- respect for tradition

With these as priority a student is also educated in subjects like math science or social sciences.
We concluded the session with a common objective that we as adults and educators should strive to develop the attributes of the IB Learner profile in ourselves first and thereby in the young people we deal with.
25th March'10
IB Annual Regional Conference of Asia Pacific opened in Raffles Convention Centre with a welcome note from Regional Development Officer John Switzer.There were nearly 800 educators from across the globe.
The keynote speaker to open the conference was
Professor James Tooley from Newcastle University London.
He is popularly called Indiana Jones for travelling to the remote corners of Asia and Africa to find low cost private schools that are giving a better education than most of the government schools.
He visited our school in October2009 and I met him again in his book release function. His book 'beautiful tree' was released in Hyderabad in November'09
I took pride in calling fund raising campaign of Silver Oaks as ‘beautiful tree’ - as the term 'beautiful tree' was coined by Gandhiji with refernce to pre colonial schools.
To have met him in the conference was a great pleasure and hearing his praises for our school during his talk was the greatest pleasure.

26th March
Wade Davis a resident explorer with the National geographic was the keynote speaker on the 2nd day. His experiences in the far corners of the world where people still believe that sun hides behind the hill and comes back the next day were interesting.
His 250 kms journey on the frozen sea along with eskimoes who celebrated when they saw blood because it is a proof of life!
We had Ruth van Reken who talked about Third Culture Kids.
That is children born in a different country, brought up in another and living elsewhere.
The dilemmas and complexities of balancing between parents’ culture and the culture of the country one is living in, is a new perspective I developed in this session.
28th March
We had the privilege of listening to Greg Mortenson the accidental educator!
As a memory to his dead sister Greg was trying to summit the K2 and lost his way and ended up in the mountainous ranges of Afghanistan.
To the villagers who saved him, he promised to build schools for their children. And that is how he is running 150 schools in the mountainous ranges of Afghanistan and Pakistan braving the Taliban, ISI and the CIA.
It is said that when a man is educated it benefits him and when a woman is educated the whole family benefits.
To hear that largely girls are getting educated in these areas is very reassuring as we can hope for peace in the coming days.
The other keynote speaker was Dr Anne Hickling Hudson…an associate professor at Queensland University of Technolgy,who talked a lot about racial discrimination in Australia.
She implored people to come out of euro-centric approach to teaching history and begin to look at each race with its own unique identity.
Me as a Presenter- 26th March'10
There were 30 other presenters like me who were given 1 hour each over the 3 day conference.
How I packed the whole school into a one hour powerpoint-is still a surprise to me.
Thanks to Anu-my sole support in the making of the presentation.
I was elated to see my audience interested in how we are striking a balance between national curriculum and PYP, how we are making it possible with such a low budget.
I did not realize how many wonderful practices we have in the school until my audience praised the concept and confidence levels of the children ( I have shown many video clippings of students in action) Leader In Me, Ramlila, School House,7 Habits, Live life the lean way, Me & My Country and all the Songs of the School.

...and thus we carved our own unique place in the Annual Conference of IBO in Singapore.

Episode punch

The conference itself is unique where people of different nationalities working in different nations have gathered at one place. Each one has their own story to tell.

An American working in China trying his best to make international education happen in an anti-west country !

A Britisher working in Japan has to strike a balance between Japanese education policy and internationalism !

An Australian working in China has to refrain from making any reference to religion.

A white teacher is preferred by Malaysians ( and many other countries) than their own nationals.

Having discussed about the challenges world over, I returned from the conference with the renewed confidence and energy as we the team @ Silver Oaks are clearly walking into the age of wisdom.


ajitha Vinod said...

Congrats mam for the successful three years of PYP journey..
It is the team sprit with innovative ideas that makes team @ Silver Oaks very special and different from others.
Keep going, good wishes always.

Anonymous said...

Dear mam,
congrats for three years PYP journey this credit goes your students for making PYP journey successful and it makes every child curious to learn IB methodology


Srujana said...

dear mam,

I just want to say one positive point of your students that is they do every work with lot of interest and they are very curious to learn new things.

All the best continue the PYP journey.

Jaya Lakshmi said...

Oh Awesome, your educational trip is still ongoing , going to Singapore for presenting about our school is only a part of it, there are so many other goalposts waiting for you, but to see the details of your Singapore trip as a whole is complete visual feast (previously you told us only in bits and peaces we couldnt connect them as a whole).The whole thing is reflecting the passion in you to change the present education scenario in our state.Hope you will be facing so many challenges and opportunities in future to prove your passion in modern education.

Uma said...

Hats off to you Mam! Another feather in your cap! Making PYP happen in our school in a span of just 3 years is really a great achievement. You must be having a magic wand in your hand to make all this happen.
Making education happen and see things in a broader perspective is the need of the hour to bring a change in the society.All this is happening in our school only becoz of the passion, focus,commitment and the drive you have to bring a change in the learners community and there by the society.
Kudos to you once again Mam for bringing the change in all of us and our families.
PYP is happening not only in our school but our homes too!

Sangeeta said...

Its indeed been an interesting journey, crossing many milestones to turn a conventional school to one being confident of getting the IB authorization.
Who else better than you would have experienced the joy of being the leader of a progressive school?
You are correct, if all are the consumers, who would be the contributors? A great responsibility lies on our shoulders as a school to groom such people.
During your conference, the comment made by your UK colleague should be taken up seriously.
There will be a day when Indians will be able to negate this comment. People are realizing the importance of meaningful education rather than quantitative education and so we can see parents welcoming the westernised education.
Kudos to great people like James Tooley, Greg Mortenson, Dr Anne Hickling Hudson wo have taken the lead to change the people's perspectives on education.
I am eagerly waiting for the day when there will be an "Educational Revolution" like the "Industrial Revolution" that changed the entire world. I m sure the revolution I am talking about will bring a massive change specially in India.