Like most parents I too consider school & education as an important part of my child’s life. The school & education system has to move beyond just being an institution to impart knowledge available. A school is a second home for a child & hence, just like a parent, schools also have to play an integral role in shaping the holistic development of a child.
A school is a training ground not just for academics but also to hone life skills, so that a child’s unique capabilities flourish, as they get ready to take on the world & shine. That is what Mr. Amol Vaidya (Director, GIIS) emphasized on being asked about the true role of the school.
Mr. Vaidya cited an article on Gulf News, as he emphasized that by next 10 year to 12 years new jobs will crop up worldwide as well as in UAE. 74% of existing jobs will become obsolete. There will be numerous youths in GCC. But what jobs will they be doing? They will be facing jobs we have no idea about at present or perhaps a scenario where everyone freelancers or is an entrepreneur. It means that expat kids should be taught skill and values, which will be valid in the future and help them, manage their life. None jobs we are aware of will be available, so we have to train them in different aspects like entrepreneurship, innovation, collaboration etc. Subject skills alone will not be sufficient. More skills like creativity, grit, collaboration has to be taught. Mr. Vaidya further elaborated, “ In a research paper by Cambridge, grit has been identified as one of the most important life skill, probably even more than academic excellence. The adage 99% perspiration & 1 % intelligence is what actually works. The never say die attitude, that come what may we will succeed in life adds purpose & direction to purpose of life. He reiterated that GIIS works on the philosophy of 9 gems. These include academics, entrepreneurship, innovation etc.”
Mr. Vaidya said, “The strength of GIIS is that it takes these valuable learning philosophies into the classroom, and directly into the life of a child. It is not about just talking but rather working the talk. This actual implementation process is incorporated very systematically in a seamless manner. It is incorporated as a housekeeping rule, right from the top to the end person in organization. The process has just started in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. GII Singapore serves as the model. The happiness index has been measured in Singapore for 12 years now. One of our schools has been winning the best rest room award for 5 years now. It is not a high-end toilet rather it is a simple restroom managed by kids. The toilet habits are taught to kids and parents through the process of involvement.”
Priyanka, an engineer who worked for, many years at software technology decided to give it back to the community by becoming a teacher. She now manages the innovation center at GIIS. She elaborated about the 3 main focuses at the center as stem, coding and robotics. “When the child first learns, he/she and finds it difficult to connect with concepts …we make sure that child implements and then infers. Through various prototypes, which they develop themselves with or without our help, we help them learn various concepts.” Said Priyanka. At GIIS there is a KHDA approved makers space with all the necessary equipment’s like, hot glue gun, micro score, drill machines etc.
“Any child with an idea for a working model is aided by the teacher and the school makes sure they are equipped.” She further added.
Robotics has become a trending subject both in Indian & non-Indian schools. The question, which all parents should ask, is do schools take these up the subject merely because they are fashionable to study or are they doing true justice to the subject.
Parents have a right to be apprehensive about exposure to technology in schools at such young age. However, no matter what we cannot shy away from technology or fight it away. What has to happen is that technology has to be imbibed in the right way in the schooling system. The child is walking into a techno era and we, as guardians have to ensure the correct dosage and direction of exposure. At the immersion center I found out that each class concept at GIIS starts with visual technological introduction.
This is because visual form of reading is the best way to understand a concept. The immersion center is designed like a huge color full casual living room are with 3 – D classes and a huge monitor. Specially designed videos custom-made for each subject and age are played out here.
Ms. Anjum, Head of KG, GIIS said, “At KG we try to make learning as experiential as possible. It is not the typical rote style that is seen in many Indian schools. Learning occurs through exploration and self-experience. At GIIS we are trying to incorporate the good aspects in both Indian as well as International Curriculum. We have retained the good writing practices, which Indian curriculums have while also incorporating critical thinking that most International Curriculums emphasize. This ensures that by the end of Phase 1 that child is capable of creative thinking as well as being good at writing. There are learning space both within as well as outside the classrooms. There are 5 corners in classroom such as creative, numeracy, investigation language and literacy spaces which they explore themselves. There are a lot of group activities and at same time teacher works with focused groups, where differentiated and structured learning occurs. We are trying to ignite the learning in the child. At the Montessori labs for 3 -4 year olds, activities are sensorial, sequential and self-corrective. Here we foster independent learning but at the same time there are structured books as well.”
I was smiling from ear to ear on seeing the beautiful & colorful GIIS camps. Wish schools in my time were as inviting as the ones nowadays.
The revolutionary approach towards imparting knowledge, life skills, physical activities, while integrating technology & innovation in child friendly manner, is really impressive. As parents we all need to take informed decisions regarding all aspects of our child’s life, hence we need to probe and ponder hard before selecting a school for our kids.