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Learning from Skiing: Our Deputy Head of Secondary reflects.

27 February 2014

Having just returned from our annual ski trip to Muju in South Korea, I have taken some time to think about the experience of the trip as well as the attitudes displayed by our students. For most of the 21 students who skied this year, it was their first time on the slopes. The resort was good, the slopes were quiet and the snow conditions were excellent. Everything came together to provide us with the very best opportunity to make big improvements as a group and individual skiers.

What struck me was the initial attitude of all our beginner skiers. They got to the resort, stood at the bottom of the chair lifts for the first time, looked up towards the top of the mountain and said “I want to go up there and ski”! There was an instant self-imposed challenge to find success right at the very highest level possible. At that time they had no concept of green, blue or black runs, they just wanted to take a risk and accept the most difficult challenge put in front of them. As the week progressed, the vast majority of the students did make it up to the top of the mountain and ski down using a selection of slopes that challenged their new found skills to the maximum. At some point, every student was challenged, came across a really difficult situation and found a path around it to ensure they found success.

It is this mind-set that is establishing itself at the core of High Performance Learning (HPL) here at Regents. We want all our students to start the challenge of learning, looking from the beginners’ slopes to the very top of the mountain, work hard to learn the skills that will allow them to access the upper slopes and then find the gradient of slope that best challenges their personal skills for a rewarding ski run back to the finish line. If we can mirror the experiences from the ski trip into everyday life here at school, then we will all find that the reward and enjoyment of learning for our students will increase, our teachers will thrive in challenging our students with the end results being improved examination results and increased levels of success across all areas of school life.

The beauty of skiing is that when you return to the slopes the following year, after a couple of turns, all your skills rush back and you are performing at the same level as before. When our students move into a new examination year group or complete their IB Diploma and move on to University, the HPL skills we have encouraged them to use in previous years will also come flooding back, allowing them to be successful learners long after they have left us here at Regents.

My challenge to all our students and teachers – let’s get off the green and blue slopes and find learning opportunities to get on the black slopes.  Take a risk and enjoy the challenge.

Paul McConnell, Deputy Head of Secondary at Regents International School Pattaya