For those of us who, like me, have spent many years in international schools around the world, it is no surprise that what students remember most fondly about their school days is the time they spent participating in active or creative extra-curricular pursuits. Yes, this might be hard for us classroom teachers and practitioners to accept, but it is not the experiment with a sheep’s heart, the presentation on a classic poem, nor the solving of quadratic formulae, but instead it is being part of the football team who lost heroically together on penalties against a rival school, or sharing the same creative writing workshop with friends and other keen writers, or singing in the choir at the Christmas Concert.
This past Friday afternoon, I
bumped into Grade 12’s Max Hübner in a running shop in Leipzig. Max
continues to work hard for his IB Diploma after successfully scoring all A*
grades at IGCSE. Only one week ago, he was a speaker at the outstanding TEDx
conference at LIS. But we didn’t discuss his work, but how important running is
to him and how it enables him to balance his studies with other forms of
enrichment. The IB Diploma understands that successful students and impressive
young people are those who have balance in their lives. And if the key to a
happy and balanced life is to have physical health and activity, avenues for
creativity, and to be surrounded by good people with whom we can create
effective, communal bonds, then this is something we can and should help
facilitate in our school.
October will mark the start of
our Enrichment Programme in the Secondary School. In this, we have combined our
already successful sports, music and drama programmes with a whole host of
other activities (from textiles to origami, from dance to tabletop gaming, and everything
in between). Many of these activities will be led by teachers of the school,
thus affording them and the students the opportunity to meet and interact with
their teachers in different capacities and with different areas of interest.
Other activities, such as those associated with Visual Arts and Dance, will be
delivered by experts from outside of the school.
And since one of our Secondary
Learning Principles is that ‘we teach for learning of communicative,
collaborative and social skills, to enable students to live and work
effectively in their future personal and professional teams’, and one of our
key Guiding Statements as a school is the objective to ‘create a safe and
stimulating learning environment in which our students can discover and develop
their intellectual, physical, social and creative potential’, it would seem
only natural that we not only urge but insist that our students take up at
least one enrichment activity (be it sports, performing arts, or any of the
other activities now on offer before 16.00 each day) to ensure that we really
are living up to our mission of developing happy, balanced, active and creative
young people ready to take on the world.
Neil Allen 28-9-2020
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