Ted Mockrish Ed.D., Head of School, Canadian International School, Bangalore, in conversation with Faizal Khan discusses how international education can do away with close-minded stances…
Q. How does international education help the student respond to the increasing challenges of conflicts, climate change, racism, refugee issue, fundamentalism, corporate greed?
A. Every time we pass through the gates of an international school we are not checking our own cultural heritage and coming in. We look to embrace, value and celebrate each other’s cultural heritage, their religion, their perspective, their orientation. And that requires understanding, understanding differences. So, by being directly involved with other people, it becomes harder to maintain dogmatic or closed-minded stances. Whatever cultural background our families and teachers come from, it is harder to hold on to rigid stances when you meet and interact and become aware of other perspectives. So, I think the direct involvement with people from all walks of life is a really important thing. One of the areas that international schools can address are our more homogenous socio-economic status. A lot of schools are embracing that change too through scholarship programmes. To have people from different economic backgrounds is important too to really push back against the polarization occurring today.
Q. You see your school as a ‘laboratory of learning’. Would you elaborate?
A. At our school, we look at taking risks in the sense of being a little more adventurous in our thought. We expect mistakes and failure and errors and that is how we learn, which develops a growth mindset vs a fixed mindset. A laboratory of learning is where everyone is being a learner. We see everyone as a learner, including parents, students, teachers and the school leadership. We create an environment of learning, one where the expectation is that you do try new things and ideas and not just go for the easy win. You need to step outside your comfort zone to truly learn. You need to try to see other people’s perspectives. The idea of a ‘laboratory of learning’ is one where we are all stretching and growing. We are not just doing things that cater to tests.
Q: What is the role of art in the work of an educator?
A: The arts, we are talking about creative writing, poetry, theatre, film, music, fine arts or visual arts, all of that to me is human expression. In terms of the arts as an educator, there are so many reasons why it is critical for students to have. One of things we see today is a shift away from funding the arts. This is really misguided. Academic learning is enhanced by the arts, not hindered by the time spent in creative pursuits. Collaboration, creativity, synthesis, communication -- all of what high performing academics strive for is because of the arts, not in spite of that. The idea what artists do and what educators do, and what teaching and learning is, and what we want for our students, they go hand in hand. At CIS, we want our students to spend more time analysing and synthesising and creating the highest aspects of the human mind and expression and thinking, not the rote memorization.
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