For the majority of this week I have been in Singapore, as I mentioned in a brief letter to parents last Friday. And what a fascinating week it has been! It began with a visit to our regional sister school, Dovercourt. My particular thanks to the Principal and to some of the staff there for the time given to show us round. What was very clear to me was the breadth of talent, and care, that exists within our schools in the NAE group. The professionalism, the thoughtfulness of staff, their consistent care for the personal and educational needs of the students mirrors our own approaches. What was fascinating was to see their context, their space, their initiatives and challenges – but, above all, the hordes of happy well-served children.
The main purpose of the visit to Singapore, however, was to attend a full full-day conference on design. Design often implies beauty and indeed Singapore has its fair share of beautiful design, as any visitor to that city-state will agree. Beauty is an extrinsic quality – it needs no reason to exist dependent upon other factors. Beauty is pleasing to the eye, it engages the senses, it enthralls and excites us, if we have the awareness to look.
But this conference was mainly about the intelligent design of learning spaces in a way that challenges traditional thinking and notions of what learning spaces have been and what they could look like – from the earliest ages up tom university. It examined how young people learn and what may need to be altered to assist in the process of developing meaningful learning that can now take place. The wealth of ideas that arose from case studies of a broad sweep of other international contexts and discussions in small group sessions was truly inspirational and exciting. This was a conference about dreams, and dreams becoming reality and having a profound impact on the reality of learning throughout education phases and systems.
With Vietnam developing fast, there will be a great demand for ‘dreamers’ who use their imaginations to bring innovative design into reality. It is a function of our inquiry- and project-based learning through the IEYC, the IPC and the Enrichment Days in Secondary that students begin to see the potential for using their innate intelligence and creativity for beautiful, and functional, design. Honda’s advertising slogan is: ‘the Power of Dreams’. They make cars. They see their dreams take shape. Our students and schools need be no different.