“Can teachers be true leaders?” is a question which continues to baffle many educators worldwide. How can you educate students to not only lead their fellow classmates and friends through basic tasks and challenges, but ethically lead others in the future too?
Fairview International School, a leader in education for the 21st century, knows all too well what it means to rise up as an authentic leader when faced with the unknown. Being the only International Baccalaureate (IB) World School in Malaysia to offer a continuum of three IB challenging programmes – Primary Years, Middle Years and Diploma programme – the school has a wealth of experiencein what it means to be a leader for the greater good.
A clear and visible leader for IB education in Malaysia, Fairview is expanding its profound educational philosophy with three more schools opening in the coming years – Ipoh in 2014, Kuantan and Port Dickson by 2015 – bringing the total to 15 schools across Asia, Australia, and the UK.
Fairview had the golden opportunity to have an audience with Ben Walden, an accomplished stage actor from the UK, who shared the experiences of Contender Charlie, his theatrical company, at the IB Asia-Pacific conference 2013. Ben mesmerised a room of the foremost educational minds and leaders across Asia Pacific and showed that leadership can be nurtured and developed through stories.
Ben and his team work primarily with students and teachers in the UK, promoting the power of storytelling and mythology using Shakespearean plays to enhance and inspire strong leadership. The actor believes that Shakespeare analyses “all the emotional dilemmas and challenges we face in our lives, identity and behaviour” to unearth the leader within us.
Speaking thereafter with the Director of the IB Diploma Programme of Fairview International School, Dr Vincent Chian, and the Head of the English Department, Andrew Webber, the group examined the concept of using Shakespeare as a method to teach student leadership. Ben is a passionate advocate of equal educational rights, glorifying the strength of literature and myths as the very basis of our cultural identity, even going so far as to claim its unchallenged effect on a nation’s education.
The group fervently spoke on the dire need for social mobility, allowing children from less privileged backgrounds to have a greater chance of a better education, emphasising the “no child left behind” policy in education. Fairview avidly believes in social progression and acts upon the necessity for disadvantaged but talented individuals to benefit from an elite world-renowned education through its scholarship fund each year. Up to RM3 million in scholarships have already been donated to eligible candidates applying for the IB Diploma Programme. Fairview scholarships for undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, in collaboration with exemplary UK Universities, are also available to those wishing to become inspirational leaders in an international environment.
When speaking about non-IB educational systems, Ben echoed Fairview’s belief that “A broad curriculum, where children are able to have more choices, allows for more social mobility”. Using the IB curriculum framework, Fairview has in place a balanced curriculum that nurtures students to become internationally-minded, global citizens, equipped with novel skills to face the many challenges of the 21st century.
Leadership skills are imparted to the students along with communication, organisation, and collaboration skills, and pupils are stretched through problem solving and critical thinking, both in the classroom and in real life situations.
Fairview organises bi-annual expeditions for its students to national and international destinations to experience real-life leadership and collaboration beyond the classroom. Beyond academic achievements, students need to appreciate the world in which they live to become truly inspirational leaders. Fairview encourages its students to engage in community and service projects which infuse dedication in the pupils to build a better world for the future through charitable and environmental causes.
Ben concluded the discussion by quoting Yeats, declaring, “Education should be the lighting of a fire, not a filling of a bucket.” This quotation sums up Fairview’s belief that filling a student’s mind with facts and figures is not a measure known to inspire a love of learning or an engagement of a child’s passion. Instead, to encourage our pupils to become internationally-minded, knowledgeable inquirers, we must ignite the student’s passion and interests by allowing them to guide their own learning so as to become successful life-long learners and leaders of the future.
For more details on Fairview International School, visit www. fairview.edu.my.
Source: The Expat June 2013
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