I hope this issue of the Tiger finds you well. Over the Diwali holidays, I had the opportunity to reflect on our distance learning programme. As we prepare for the winter break that begins on the 19th of December until the 10th of January, I would like to share my reflections.
An interesting article I read on the Importance of Cross-Cultural Education (Education World, India, October 2020) got me thinking about the opportunities this pandemic has afforded our students and schools worldwide. We understand the challenges of remote and distant learning by now (as we finish week 40), and our Stonehill community has been forced to think both alternatively and expeditiously about teaching and learning during this pandemic.
As noted in the article, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced schools to close their campuses and deliver content digitally. The students and teachers have had to make abrupt changes in instruction and learning. Students are accessing multiple sources of information and knowledge outside of conventional school environments. The teacher's role has changed as well. It is no longer the purveyor of information but a facilitator of inquiry, learning and collaboration. The author assiduously points out the need for cultural education, which he defines as “one’s system of beliefs, behaviours, and values.” Perhaps an important lesson learned from this pandemic has been the value of family. Before our students can understand other cultures they must first understand the value of their own. We have had generous time during this pandemic to learn and appreciate our family and rediscover our family values (some might argue it has been far too much time).
As we position ourselves for a gradual reopening, hopefully soon after our return from the winter break (on approval from the state government), we will begin to make detailed preparations for a gradual reopening. Being able to reconnect interpersonal relationships once again is a coveted thought for many of our students. I agree with the author that cross-cultural education is so important in our world today and at Stonehill International School we have access to these conversations and discussions everyday. Although the pandemic has forced us to deliver our curriculum in innovative and creative ways, I feel there is also great value with in-person interaction and learning as a community. This is the true value of an international school and a cross-cultural education.
To this date, we do not have directives from the state government about definite dates and protocols for reopening. The government has suggested that January is a possibility. We are ready when given the go-ahead to deliver a blended learning approach. That said, we know there will be families who still prefer the distance learning platform. We are prepared to safely deliver a blended learning environment to those students who prefer to physically come to school. As we approach the end of 2020, we expect that there will be additional news for reopening of schools in Karnataka. We will share more information then.
Thank you for your continued support.
Head of School