It’s time for a break, isn’t it? This has been a long semester, and we now have almost half the year behind us (19 school weeks finished, 20 to go). But right now, we all have two whole weeks of sleeping in, and I for one intend to take full advantage!
January is a busy month for me because it’s when most of the expat teacher recruitment takes place, so I won’t be around much. I’ll be in school on January 2nd, then again on the 15th and 16th, and then I’m back here full time from January 24th.
But the next two weeks will give us a chance to take a break from school, which I think is important. Although “being at school” takes up only 15% of a student’s year, it’s a very hectic/busy/frantic 15%, and as such it can be tiring. It is for teachers too. So it’s time for a break.
Time to focus on the glue that holds together the other 85% of the year – the family. I hope families are able to be together at this time, with no business trips to get in the way of the “together” time. I am acutely aware of how very quickly our children grow up (my “little boy” turned 32 yesterday), and how much we must cherish the time we spend with them.
And if you celebrate Christmas, I hope it’s a great one. When you have small children, Christmas takes on a whole new meaning as you view it through their eyes. I can still remember listening in to a conversation my little boy (when he really was little) had with his friend Douglas. Douglas was explaining his intention to leave some milk and cookies out for Santa, which gave my son an opportunity to display his superior knowledge of the subject. He turned to Douglas with a look of scorn, and said
“That’s no good – Santa’s a beer drinker”
(Children have the ability to force us to see ourselves as the rest of the world sees us!)
I still have not written my letter to Santa, but one of the Nursery classes has offered to help me with this so I should be in good hands. There’s really nothing material that Santa can bring me (I have everything), so perhaps I’ll just ask for a world in which we all get along.
Yesterday a little girl (JKG I think), took my hand in hers, and ran her fingers over all the veins and wrinkles of the back of my hand that come with age. She then looked up into my eyes with an expression of concern and asked “What happened?”
Honey, I wish I knew!
Head of School - OGC Campus
When I consider that we have arrived at the end of the first semester, I am amazed at how quickly the last several months have gone by! Wasn’t it just the other day that we were all still soaked from the daily downpours of the monsoon? Wasn’t it just a short time ago that our youngest students were still reluctant to leave the embrace of Mom and Dad during morning arrival?
My sense of time, I find, gets easily confused. I do believe that the older we get, the faster time moves. I also get tripped up by those climatic clues: In the northeastern US (where I spent the first 30 years of my life), December means short days and bitterly cold weather. In Mumbai, by contrast, the weather is always summer-like. So the fact that I went out to lunch last Sunday, December 15, in shorts and a t-shirt amazes me because it feels like August or September at home...but here it is December. No wonder I am shocked that winter break is upon us!
In any event, at the halfway point of our academic year, we as a school community have much about which to be joyful. From a program perspective, we have more good news to share from PYP, MYP, and DP:
And the larger picture is this: Since August, several outside observers have visited our school. These observers know an awful lot, from all angles, about what IB schools should look and sound and feel like. These observers have fed back to us that many, many good--no, great--things are happening in our school. And so we all can take a great deal of pride in the many wonderful things that are happening at OIS - JVLR!
While I love outlining our progress with regard to our programs, there is so much more going on at our school. But I have limited space to work with, and you surely have other things to do. I will end this with something I hope will bring a smile to your face. Earlier this week, a group of our Secondary School students published the first issue of the Leopard Gazette. Brace yourselves...it is 31 pages long and is a very funny, very interesting read! This is a labor of love for this group: It is not a requirement, they do not receive a grade for their work...they do it because they love to write, they love to take photos, they love to design and edit.
I make a cameo appearance at the end: “36 Questions with The Boss.” Without spoiling the fun, I need to make a few things clear for anyone who might be tempted to interpret this literally (I’m looking at you, WhatsApp groups):
I wish you and your family a safe, healthy, restful winter break. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Head of School
Oberoi International School - JVLR Campus
It’s PISA time again! Every three years, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) conducts tests on the Reading, Science and Mathematics understanding and ability of some 600,000 fifteen-year-old students from 78 participating countries. This is the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)
The students tested have to be between 15 years and 3 months and 16 years and 2 months at the beginning of the assessment period, and must be at school (no home-schooled students). The tests are written in the children’s home language and are culturally neutral.
The results of the 2018 PISA study were released recently, and the rankings are somewhat predictable (attached for your reference).
The survey compares the ability of students to perform in an exam situation. My view of education is a bit broader than that (I do not believe that the purpose of education is to produce kids who are good at exams), so I would be hesitant to equate a country’s PISA ranking with “quality of education”.
And how reliable are the results? Do they really compare representative samples from different countries? If you Google “Why does China do so well in PISA?” you’ll discover that things are not always exactly as they seem.
Some may ask “Where is India?” and the answer is that India does not participate. They did once in 2009, but the results were not very good so they stopped participating. (Google “India PISA 2009”)
India now plans to once again participate in the 2021 PISA study, using students in Chandigarh, from Indian central government schools, known as Kendriya Vidyalayas and Navodaya Vidyalayas (I hope I’ve spelled that correctly!). It will be interesting to see the results.
Results from the PISA study can have a profound effect on national education systems. In the 2001 PISA study, Germany was so unhappy with their poor results that they felt they had to do something about it. And they did. They doubled the nation’s spending on education, because they felt that the children were the nation’s most valuable natural resource, holding the future of the country in their little hands.
Somebody smarter than me once said…
“If you’re planning for next year, plant rice.
If you’re planning for the next ten years, plant trees.
If you’re planning for the next hundred years, educate children.”
As always, love to hear your comments – firstname.lastname@example.org
Head of School - OGC Campus