Education

An Interview with the President of Taylor’s Schools, Mr BK Gan: Part 1

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In the first installment of a two-part series, Editor Chad Merchant meets with the President of Taylor’s Schools, Mr BK Gan, to learn more about how this pioneering education group in Malaysia is working to embody the very philosophy it strives to impart to students.

Choosing a company tagline is an arduous task. It must be concise, it must communicate the ethos or primary platform of the company, and it must honestly and effectively convey something meaningful. Some are easier than others, with more than one long lasting company simply using the date of incorporation as its tagline (“Since 1861”) – but even this simple line delivers on the tagline premise, as it brings to mind a company that’s solid, stable, and reliable.

For a school, an organization with a product far more precious than anything that rolls off an assembly line, the tagline is perhaps even more important. In the case of Taylor’s Education Group, the triumvirate of “Wisdom, Integrity, Excellence” was chosen.

The first of these, wisdom, is notable in that it’s not “knowledge” or “learning.” It’s been suggested that wisdom is the product of knowledge and experience. An afternoon spent leisurely chatting with BK Gan, the ebullient president of Taylor’s Schools, made it clear that the Taylor’s ship is helmed by a captain dedicated to schools that turn out more than just accomplished academic achievers. Knowledge is the cornerstone of any school, of course, but Taylor’s strives to put the learning into context, to encourage students to communicate openly, to respect and care for one another, and to take their place as true global citizens. An incredibly varied palette of educational pursuits, sports, extracurricular activities, and community outreach efforts ensures a Taylor’s kid is a well-rounded whole person – not just “book smart.”

The second value, integrity, is a concept that perhaps doesn’t get communicated as strongly as it should in many schools today, but Taylor’s, by making it a key component of its three-part tagline, has shown the degree of importance they feel it carries. Mr Gan told me he left his former life as a Hong Kong stockbroker and entered the education realm in no small part because he felt today’s kids lacked a foundation of integrity and nurturing.

“Sixty years ago,” he explained, “a student would be most likely to get in trouble for chewing gum in class or handing in assignment late. But today, it’s an entirely different world. Drugs, depression, school shootings, teenage pregnancies. What’s changed?” He went on to explain that the quiet student, who most teachers could easily identify as the one who never says much, never gets into trouble, and always gets good grades, can be suffering from depression, and this passes under the radar because schools and teachers lose their focus on the one thing on which they should be most keenly focused: the student. Not just the student’s academic performance, but the whole student. Similarly, integrity encompasses more than just basic honesty; it’s a complex concept that blends truthfulness, reliability, honour, and a certain uprightness. Mr Gan went on to stress the value of integrity in education and how important it is to impart this consistently from an early age, all the way through adolescence.

Finally, the third component of the Taylor’s tagline is excellence. Another somewhat subjective and even nebulous concept, we may not always know how to quickly define excellence, but it’s all too easy to identify when we see it – and perhaps equally so when we don’t. Any organization that genuinely strives to achieve excellence, whether it’s through an unyielding commitment to quality products or an equally unbending desire to provide top service or achieve the best results possible, is a group that finds success more often than not. Taylor’s Schools push for a culture of excellence, from the hiring of well-qualified professionals from both Malaysia and abroad to the construction of purposebuilt schools whose very design fosters better, more enjoyable learning. The core values of Taylor’s Schools are summed up with the acronym “RECIPE” and encompass two of the three components of the tagline. These core values are:

• RESPECTING and caring for each other
• Being dedicated to a culture of EXCELLENCE
• Openness in COMMUNICATION
• Acting with INTEGRITY
• Being PASSIONATE in what we do
• Creating ENJOYABLE environments

Perhaps notably missing is the very first maxim, wisdom. However, after my lengthy conversation with the man tasked with the responsibility of ensuring the schools under the Taylor’s banner ably employ these core values, it became clear to me that when these six values are upheld, the key value of wisdom is the natural result.

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Source: The Expat Magazine December 2014

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