Thoughts about “school”

Having just returned from two back-to-back trips, I am now in contemplative mode before the craziness of the school week sets in. Trip 1: a conference for international educators in the East-Asia region. Trip 2: a vacation on the wonderful island of Bali, a paradise for so many reasons. (I will stop there lest I begin to wax lyrical about this inspiring land, as I realize plenty of others have already done this, so I really don’t need to. Plus, it could honestly take up another blog site altogether. Or a book, even.)

Trip 1 gave me plenty of insight into the world of education, particularly international education, and was a good “refresher” of both the positives and the negatives about being in this world.

Positives:

  • There are some super cool things going on out there, for lack of better wording (and, well, it’s late here in Hanoi, and I’m bone-tired). Cool things like Jeff Utecht‘s talk about the movement of connectivism and such. I hope lots of teachers — and administrators to boot — were paying attention to him, particularly to his bits focused on the philosophy and theory rather than the nuts-and-bolts of RSS. While both are useful and necessary, the former is more revolutionary to the world of education than the latter, I believe.
  • There are some super cool people out there, and lots of them happen to be educators. I know lots of other super cool people too, and have found myself wondering why they aren’t educators, too. Hmmm…
  • I’m happy to see a dynamic duo coming together, even if in name rather than philosophy. I’m talking here about the IBO and EARCOS. Too often organizations like EARCOS seem (to me, at least) so overly focused on American schools overseas, which most IB schools are not. Props to both organizations for coming together.

Negatives:

  • Sadly, there are still too many educators who are teaching in traditional classrooms. I went to at least 5-too-many sessions led by professionals (many who have been in education longer than I have been alive, and I’m 33) who think about school as a place where students sit within 4 walls and at desks. When can we move away from this?
  • There are also a number of educators, from all backgrounds, ages, and disciplines, who think that all this “IT stuff” is about technology. There were a few tense moments for me when I wanted to jump up and shout, amongst 45 or so of my peers, “It’s not about the technology!” but I refrained, mostly because I am just tired of explaining it to those who don’t get it.
  • The staff at the Shangri-La had a difficult time remembering that I was actually staying in room 303. I was beginning to think that no one ever stayed in that room, or that it did not exist, or perhaps only existed in some strange 5-star hotel bad-karma vortex. Long story, but it was a pain in the neck.

Trip 2 — oh, there is always plenty of insight to be had when one is on vacation, isn’t there? 🙂 I won’t share it all with you, as most of it is journalled anyway, but I will share one particularly intriguing and relevant find:

The Green School.

I am really intrigued by this school. I have to admit, at first I was skeptical, thinking it was just another international school start-up by some over-zealous businessman. My partner showed me the advertisement in an edition of the Bali Advertiser, and I kind of shrugged it off at first. But he persisted, and upon our return to Hanoi, urged me to check out their website.

WOW.

I am rather floored, to be honest. And I was so very wrong! What a wonderful, innovative, forward-thinking and un-school-ish idea they have for their sustainable, eco-conscious, whole-child oriented school. Their school is definitely on my watch list, and I daresay that I would love to stop by and visit the next time I am in Bali. They have a unique vision and philosophy, one that I dearly hope more schools latch on to, and not just by lip service. I imagine this school would be a wonderful place to work, learn, and experience all around. Props to the Hardys of Bali!

And on that note, I will end this post as I continue to contemplate the future, education, and my place within all of it. Hopefully it won’t keep me awake at night, as I have a busy first-day-back-post-Spring Break tomorrow…