Reflections

7

September

2018

7th September 2018

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Provide children with a balanced lifestyle, full of what they NEED, not just what they WANT. Do not be afraid to say no to your children if what they want is not what they need.

An important paradigm shift that Dalat is working towards is that we want to move from seeing ourselves as a school that simply teaches its students well, to aspiring to do much more than that.

Last year, through an extensive process, we replaced the existing “ESLRs” (Expected School wide Learning Results) with what we are calling our “flagships”. These flagships (scholarship, citizenship, discipleship, and relationship) include our student outcome statements (SOS) which are declarations of what we want our students to become. I want to briefly highlight each flagship over the next few weeks and unpack them a little bit each week in the Dalat News.

Our first flagship is that of “Scholarship.” With scholarship Dalat wants to inspire enthusiastic lifelong learners who are inquisitive, creative, and independent. This flagship is broken down further into two main categories – communication and thinking – with each one having distinctive outcome statements. During the first quarter of school we will be looking more deeply at these statements with our students in all three divisions.

For now I want to land on the word “inspire” in our description of scholarship. An important paradigm shift that Dalat is working towards is that we want to move from seeing ourselves as a school that simply teaches its students well, to aspiring to do much more than that. We want to not just teach our kids but also to inspire our kids to learn; to pursue their passions and explore this amazing universe around them. We want them to be filled with wonder and awe and to ask many questions because they want to learn. We want them to desire more than figuring out how to get a better grade.

Let’s be honest. School, as we know it and experienced it, was not always that inspiring. For many students school does not excite and inspire but instead it’s about a lot of hoop jumping and completing a host of requirements so that somewhere down the road they can do what they really want to do. Part of becoming an adult is learning self-discipline and having the ability to do the things you don’t feel like doing. This is one of the “hidden curriculums” of schools. It needs to be a part of growing up. My question is, can we somehow keep a little bit more of the awe and wonder we see in our littlest ones as they run to school, in our oldest ones? Part of the problem I believe is that we have unfortunately gotten the formula wrong for our older students. The formula they learn is that they need to study and work hard so that they can get a good grade instead of getting a good grade because they are motivated to learn. Unfortunately, we have subtly removed the inspiration of learning as the goal and replaced it with a grade. The grade is now ultimately the goal of school not the learning. This is why the most asked question in high school every day is, “will this be on the test?” What is subtly implied every time a student asks that question is, if it’s not part of getting me a good grade I don’t care.

We need to take a step back and see if we can change the formula. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that high academic achievement is not a cornerstone of education at Dalat, the word scholar literally has that in its definition. But can we do a little bit more in the area of inspiring and letting the good grades be the byproduct instead of the product itself?

To do this, however, will take courage and we will need parents to help us make this paradigm shift. Our children want to please us and it is often a very big part of their motivation to do well in school. As parents we need to stop focusing so much on the grades and instead encourage and praise the learning itself. Until we, both as a school and as parents, start doing this, the formula will stay the same. It’s time for us to rewrite the formula.

Written by Karl Steinkamp

Karl Steinkamp is passionate about Dalat International School and training up young people. Karl was a student at Dalat and returned with a degree in education as a student teacher, high school principal, and now Head of School since 2006.
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Recent Reflection Articles

What’s New, Part II

At the start of last semester, I wrote an article about all the new things on campus. Well, it’s a new semester again and there are a number of “new” things to highlight.

Welcome to 2020

In 2020 we look forward to working with you and your children to create an exceptional education experience where there is a love and excitement for learning!

The Wisdom of the Wise Men

There are numerous traditions regarding this visit with many of them not based in fact but more on myth or speculation. Here are a few of the myths about this famous visit.

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