Nord Anglia schools in India have a newcomer. Brian Kuklin, Managing Director, has led an extraordinary life as a teacher in several countries. He shares his insights about how Nord Anglia’s philosophy of education nurtures each individual student
“In education it is important to understand that we have to teach a child where they are from. No imaginary place that assumes they have already arrived.” –Brian Kuklin, Managing Director of Nord Anglia Education.
After decades of teaching thousands of students around the world, what makes you most happy when you see a student from Nord Anglia?
There is nothing that is more enjoyable than finding your true calling as a student. Especially after being well trained in a number of carefully chosen potentials. Also, of course, have built up a well-rounded personality through extra-curricular experiential learning over the years. What I really like is that our students are 70,000. make good team players by collaborating with nord anglia students on our global platform. The student today has the most opportunities in history, but will also face the most disruptions.
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Can you take us into your life as a teacher? What was your first impression of Nord Anglia schools here in India?
I was in a government school in Glasgow for 33 years. I have observed that students from many castes benefit from well-trained training. I was also president of the Teachers Association in Scotland and similar organizations in England, and have taught in Hungary, Poland, Turkey, etc. Before I reached out to lead Indian schools, I was the head of nord anglia School in Hong Kong, which had students from 40 nationalities. I have conducted extensive research on the excellence of Finnish education at the request of the Government of England. The Finnish society considers education as paramount. Their best mind competes to teach. Not only can an education model be replicated in its entirety, but the social impact is also very significant. In India, I visited all five Oak Ridge Schools, spent about a week on each campus, visited staff, attended classes, completed support tasks and so on. I have seen many best practices implemented here. Each school has its own character. For example, I was blown away by the student initiative of Bachupally School. Life is different in different parts of India. So, Oakridge is different from Mohali campus Oak Ridge Vizag campus, which is separate from Oakridge Bangalore School. Having such diversity is uplifting and inspiring.
enjoying the learning experience
one of the things that sets Oak Ridge nord anglia In addition to schools there is a collaboration with MIT. The Ivy League institution faces new challenges with each term, and we’ve kept that up through the pandemic. One of the challenges given to the entire school was, ‘What are your thoughts on the future of flying?’ In this challenge, 3-year-olds made paper airplanes and did experiments to see how far it went. So, in three years, one is working on motor and measuring skills. 4 year olds made a real plane out of a cardboard box. I remember sitting in front of the plane as a pilot, and we had live screens and announcements, and actually 4-year-olds thought they were going to MIT! 5 year olds built a real model, sent it to Makerspace and built a 3D miniature airplane that was flown through a wind tunnel, which was even built at school! Look and behold, his invention was alive! Older students calculated fuel, cargo, seating plans, and worked out how they would benefit if they flew certain routes. It taught him mathematics in easy play-by-play. As students created their own flight guides in different languages, they refined their linguistics. Just as he studied flight routes, he studied geography. As he learned about flight evolution, history. To fail in any such task is also a lesson. One gets used to taking risks. Hence, we are building a student’s risk taking ability, which is very important for a successful life. Critical thinking, collaboration and applying knowledge are the keys to true learning. This is why we like the International Baccalaureate, which emphasizes these qualities. It is important to be able to let children synthesize learning in this way. It builds a worldly self-confidence, and encourages adaptability, a key skill of our rapidly changing times
What insights has the pandemic given you about education?
We have survived these pandemic years completely backed by technology. But, I can say with confidence that no technology is capable of human creativity. It’s a powerful tool, and we must know how to use it. I was in Hong Kong when the pandemic hit, and we already had a year of distance education because of the protests there, so the school was very well equipped to continue it. We had an e-code of conduct. And our teachers got really comfortable with the tools. Particularly important is how we did group work for the students, creating emotional support and pastoral support, as this was a big shift. We shared these learnings with 75 other schools, and I did webinars around the world to help other educational institutions. In one such webinar I was told that there are 9000 teachers from 60 countries! One clear insight is that not all students thrive with complete physical education. Shy students, who never talk, do well in a digital classroom. They actually interact better. Then students who get bored in the real classroom, do well in the digital classroom, they see it as a game. They find it more stimulating. That’s why we have kept this option open. Asynchronous learning, especially for younger students, was a big boost. We sent Curiosity kits, materials they could make anything, and we also trained the parents. Right in the midst of the lockdown, we did online dance competitions, cooking contests and more to keep everyone productive. Basically, our students never stop learning or enjoying their time through the pandemic. We are now having a global student film competition, and every school around the world is participating.
What do you call those parents who only want to see their kids in competitive exams?
I have seen this phenomenon in India, but it is also common in Chinese and South Korean families and in other countries, usually, Children’s Day is full of classes. There is absolutely no time for music, art, sports etc. To be honest, I tell parents, these are not our values, although we excel academically as well. We teach children, not classes. We are also very particular about every aspect of learning and thriving. We use tools like CAT (Cognitive Ability Test) 4 test. If you choose our school, our teachers get to know the student before they arrive and set individual goals for each aspect of their development, based on their ability, especially for certificate classes.
What do you like about our Indian NEP Policy?
There are many positives. It is a policy that envisions a model of holistic education. One thing I particularly liked is that all good schools have to adopt a local school that can be helped. We have also done so, but it needs to be made more prevalent. This will help in bringing about rapid change. I believe that students are the same everywhere. It is a question of whether their potential is well nurtured
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