Schools are traditionally quite static institutions with any changes happening slowly and over time; we are changing!
In August, the new Early Learning Center opened its doors and marked a step forward in terms of a building that follows the demands of our curriculum and the educational ethos that we want to create; education in a different setting and molded along early childhood pedagogy. We recognize that children today have different needs and must be educated in new ways adapted to the visions that we can deduce about tomorrow. As any open-minded institution, the questions we are asking ourselves are, ‘how do we propel our students and prepare them for what is happening in the wider world? What does the individual need, what does society need? How do you survive and thrive in both areas? Traditional education did a great service to us in the past and brought us where we are today; however, it is no longer suitable for our children. It is time to break the mold, to take some educated risks and redesign our existing buildings to meet these new aspirations.
The AISB Early Learning Center was built as a “one-school classroom” where children find opportunities for learning and learning provocations in every corner; where teachers are guides and mentors to our young learners in their earliest stages of educational life. We have outgrown the era of the teacher being the creator of content in the classroom; a great teacher today is a compassionate guide, a mentor with deep knowledge, someone who listens to learn, and above all engages and inspires their students. Access to content is instantaneous, just at the press of a finger; students still need to know facts and figures, but content is no longer king.
I am firmly of the belief that I do not have to worry about what the students’ careers might be. All we need to do is give them the skills and conceptual understanding that they need to adapt to the every-changing world around them. This means that we must give them the capacity to be creative, innovative, hardworking, self-motivated and engaged in the learning process by doing things.
We will continue to ‘break the mold’ by building a Design and Engineering Center, a special place, a school within a school, which will afford our students of ages 8 to 99 (yes, we are not limited by age) the opportunity to become organized, structured, outcome-driven coupled with an understanding of what it takes to actually create something. Robotics, automation, materials, film, media, communications, food science will be some of the activities that provide the practical skills we feel our students will need to allow them to succeed in the world of tomorrow. Some of the more important skills will be to understand how to create, how to innovate; to appreciate the inevitability of making mistakes, to start-over, redesign, recreate until the best solutions are found. Mistakes are simply missed takes (from Old Norse, mistaka, take in error) – learning opportunities from which to improve.
Fear of failure is our calling. We must be prepared to step into unchartered, but well-researched territory. Part of the next step for this school is to build a place that would allow students to experiment, allow them to sit and think – in order to give them the opportunity to discover unfulfilled potential. I need everyone’s help in this endeavor. Not just the help of the teachers and parents of this school, but the support of the wider community. We need industries, companies, and organizations to engage with our students and give them real life experiences; to challenge them will specific projects that have defined outcomes and deadlines –the real world into which, in not so many years, they will venture.