Manners, Mastery and Meaning

Dear Parents,

The start of the school year is always a busy time as changes to the campus come to completion and orientation sessions for new and returning faculty turn towards welcoming students for the first day of school. You will have received a number of emails from the Admissions Office detailing such changes, but I thought I would write about the philosophical underpinnings to the changes that we have been planning and implementing over the past nine months.

You will notice the new all-weather field, upgraded Physics lab, new furniture appearing in classrooms, lockers for the elementary school students, an Admissions Office and IT Help Desk in the atrium and, until the Fall break, a temporary entrance to the school as we upgrade the main entrance to enhance the security process for visitors to AISB. Thus, we have begun a systematic upgrade of the physical resources, both within and without the classrooms. We are all affected by our surroundings; place is important. Ours should be orderly, safe, welcoming, and designed to improve and encourage student learning. Hence, over the summer, walls have been painted, carpets cleaned, environmentally friendly LED lighting installed in the corridors, old furniture removed, and the process begun to upgrade all aspects of the physical campus.

We have also begun to review our educational practices to maintain and reintroduce traditional educational practices in order to balance the introduction of new technologies. A focus, therefore, on both laptops and physical notebooks; a sensible use of both the electronic stylus, plus the pen or pencil; a bias towards ‘eye,’ rather than ‘i’ for emotional contact; and attention to handwriting as well as the keyboard, will ensue. Thus, lined and graph notebooks will be on sale in the atrium for the majority of Secondary School subjects – elementary students will be given theirs; the IT Help Desk will assist with any technical challenges, whilst redesigned lockers and book-bags for Elementary School students will encourage a more organised approach to their lives at school. Amongst many new educational resources purchased over the summer, sets of Mathematics student textbooks have been bought for the Elementary School that more closely emphasize computational skills and mental capabilities, as well as conceptual understanding.

It is a new school year, with many new faces and many new faculty members, but the hard-won, cultural notions of manners, mastery and meaning will be blended into our rigorous IB programme.