The Greek philosopher Heraclitus is often quoted as saying “the only constant in life is change” – a sentiment which is perhaps now truer than ever given the rapid pace of change in our world today.
Technological advancements, an increasingly diverse society combined with greater global connections – these shifts bring the promise of growth and improvement and also challenges.
Closer to home, we all experience regular change, big and small. My career has brought significant changes to my life – first leaving the UK to take up my first international leadership position in Vietnam, and then more recently moves from Ho Chi Minh City to Yangon, Myanmar and now to Doha, Qatar.
Each time, as you would expect, I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, I questioned whether I had made the right decision, felt trepidation of the unknown and sadness to be leaving friends and family. However, I also saw these as positive steps forward in my life, filled with new opportunities and experiences. I have made new friends, worked with some amazing colleagues and stretched myself professionally.
The start of a new school year brings change for many families and parents often tell me that they are worried about how their children will react to moving to a new country, starting at a new school or campus, or even moving up a year. In my experience, children are exceptionally good at adapting to new environments and situations. They make new friends very quickly and often it is only a matter of a few weeks before they have settled and moved on from previous experiences.
Although we cannot control change, we can often shape its results. Teachers and parents play an important role in preparing students to successfully navigate it, equipping them to thrive whether tackling new experiences as they grow and transition through school or the challenges presented by our ever-evolving world. We help students make a deliberate, yet not always easy, choice to embrace change.
In addition to encouraging students to adopt a positive and open mindset when approaching change, teachers design activities which nurture key skills such as adaptability, curiosity and grit which have been named by the World Economic Forum as some of the key skills children need to thrive in the 21st century. A broad and rigorous curriculum fosters a global perspective, equipping them for complexity. Students are regularly challenged with new experiences outside their comfort zone and supported to make the most of the opportunity.
The results are empowering – children gain confidence, resilience and a can-do attitude. They feel ready to thrive in new environments, with new people and new challenges. So, my advice to any child embarking on a change is to seize the opportunity with both hands and look forward. Approach it with a positive outlook, open mind and determination to succeed. Then there really will be no limit to what you can achieve.