Thursday, August 2, 2012

What is winning in education?

If you read my previous post you will know that I shed some tears on my first day at school today, and this is why.  We talked about what winning is, in terms of education.  In my group we talked about how winning needs a safe environment, it needs support and nurturing and an interesting environment where students want to learn.  It needs a place where failure is a step to winning, a place where lifelong learners are created.

We talked about the fact that there are 2 sorts of winners.  You could win if you compare yourself to others (I did better than X on my maths test/this is the best international school in the world etc).  Or you could win if you compare yourself with yourself.  The real idea of winning is overcoming obstacles so that you reach your potential.

Then we watched this video of Derek Redmond's Olympic run.

We were told:  replace the word father with teacher and explore the metaphor.

Derek's father said to him "You don't have to do this".  Derek said "I do."  We were asked how often it's the student who says "I don't have to do this." and the teacher who says "You do."  The difference is the intrinsic -v- extrinsic motivation.

A powerful message:  When you don't give up, you can't fail.

Most people who know me will know that I thought of giving up teaching last year as a result of the way I was made to feel at my previous school.  But I didn't give up, I just carried on.  I stayed true to my values.  The thing I was most concerned about was not letting this experience turn me into a bad person or a bad teacher.  And I succeeded.  When I left the thing that most people said to me was that I had inspired them.  Winning is about staying true to your personal values and never compromising them.  That is what I did.  Now I'm in a better place, I'm in a wonderful school, I'm working with truly inspirational educators.

My tears were tears of joy.  I won.  And when I look around me at all the wonderful people here, I know that our students will be winners too because they are learning here with these amazing people.

There's a more personal reason too.  Last month our daughter got her IB Diploma results.  She got 38 points. That's an amazing score, but still one point short of the score she needed to get to her first choice of university.  To me it's incredible that any university could turn down such an amazingly talented student as my daughter, and eveyone who knows her would say the same.  She is going to her second choice, who are lucky to have her.  Derek Redmond didn't get the gold medal.  However perhaps what he got was even greater than that.  I hope that someday my daughter comes to feel the same way and that she feels that she is a winner too.

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