Oct 01, 2020
After setting the stage on our previous episodes on Out of the Box with Beyond 8, on finding the right high school for your child - we are down to the specifics of that checklist in this one. In this blog post, we will cover two parameters that are highly relevant but unfortunately aren’t spoken about enough with regard to higher education: organization culture and preparedness for the future.
On your many school visits, you may have noticed that every one of them has its own unique persona: the feeling one gets right from the moment one steps into its portals. In a matter of minutes, the hues of the walls, the content of the bursting notice boards, the courtesy of the school staff tell you if a school is welcoming or not. In a nutshell, it tells us of the school’s culture. On the other hand, times like these have prompted parents to also assess a school’s preparedness to educate in a post-pandemic world: are they equipped to translate the best parts of their methodology over virtual methods of teaching? Are they able to alter their curricula in a way that is practical for learners to assimilate and retain?
We invited Dr. S Jeyavelu, Dean at VIT-AP School of Business to share his rich perspectives on these areas from his diverse professional experience. Here are the best insights to take away:
Dr. Velu believes the foundation of an organization’s culture lies in its shared values, beliefs, and assumptions on areas such as human relationships, definitions of success and failure, and diversity. The culture of a school is evident in the simplest ways - the way it integrates or separates its spaces, for instance, can be an indicator of the values it upholds. Another way to gauge the culture of a school is to take a closer look at the hierarchy that exists in the organization, made clear by the titles and designations are given to the teaching staff.
No single culture can be considered the best or the most acceptable - each one is different and the real question to ask ourselves here is ‘will this culture suit our child and our family as a unit?” Dr. Velu draws upon the age-old adage that says: it takes a village to raise a child to highlight the significant role families have in shaping the culture of the school. “We cannot view children and their families as mere consumers of cultures anymore - they are in fact, co-creators”. Families have to determine if the culture of a school is one they see fit to integrate into their own value systems and beliefs. In essence, a child should see parallels between the cultures he/she sees at home and in school, not polar opposites.
An important aspect of organizational culture, especially in recent times is the emphasis on inclusion. Dr. Velu suggests that teenagers must be exposed to the realities of inequalities and discrimination in the outside world as well as in our own backyards. They must be aware of the fact that these inequalities exist - but they do not need to buy into it. School culture plays a great role in teaching young learners the sensitive and inclusive way of interacting with people from different backgrounds. When they are set free from a highly protective cocoon that society weaves around them as young children, they will learn to view the people around them as just fellow human beings.
Thus, from a school’s perspective, it is important to mould learners into global citizens, with a fair balance between academic excellence and mastery of essential life skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving.
The pandemic has added a new parameter for us to think about when looking for the best high school for our children: the ability to educate young learners to thrive even in the post-pandemic world. Preparedness for the future comes in several forms including tailoring the curricula and methodology to still hold its merits despite the transition to online platforms. Your child’s school must also have a clear idea of how it will balance his/her well-being with academic excellence in these times.
The role of teachers will also drastically change in the future. As learning moves online, there will be less emphasis on completing volumes of portions and more focus more on making students independent learners. Teachers are shifting to the role of facilitators and enablers of the learners’ journeys. Finally, another element schools need to be thinking about is the kind of skills and attitudes they want to reward/recognize or incentivize in learners. In the post-pandemic world, we need to celebrate innovation, critical thinking, and entrepreneurship more than the ability to regurgitate textbook information.
In summary, the pandemic has proved that we have a joint destiny moving forward. We are all inter-connected in surprising ways. The time has come to overcome our apprehensions over the adoption of technology and integrate synchronous and asynchronous modes of online learning . Schools serve as a conduit for students to achieve their passion and ambitions. Picking up the right high school will depend on achieving these. You are better off placing your bets on the high school that is most likely to help your child become a contributing citizen of the world by the culture it inculcates.
Watch the entire recording of the session on our YouTube channel here . Join us for our final episode on Saturday, October 3rd live on our Facebook page, where we will be talking about two other important parameters to look for in a high school: understanding teaching and curricula.
Be it the way we learn or teach, there are always better ways to do it and often they lie out of the box, on the paths less taken. Out of the Box with Beyond 8 is an initiative that encourages the education fraternity to push the boundaries and challenge the status quo.
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