This was the title of a post in the Senior IB candidates' blog for their Theory of Knowledge class. Their teacher, Alex Bogel, linked them to an article by Marc Prensky entitled "Our Brains Extended" which the faculty was reading over the summer. In the article, Mr. Prensky makes the point that "Technology... is an extension of our brains; it's a new way of thinking." He then poses the question, "Now that kids are routinely exposed to increasingly sophisticated information online, what's an 'age-appropriate' curriculum? What subject matter from the past is still relevant, and for whom?" Finally, he suggests a vision for completely revamping the curriculum in our nation's schools. He proposes organizing learning around four themes: effective thinking, effective action, effective relationships, and effective accomplishment. (Interestingly, these four themes integrate well with the fundamental philosophy of the IB curriculum, for example through the Creativity-Action-Service, or CAS, requirement.)
Standing in line for food during Formal Dinner last week, I was approached by a new student, "S." '14 (her name has been withheld to protect her anonymity), whom I’d only known from house parenting duties. She told me, in her quiet manner, that my 11th graders’ English summer reading book, The Kite Runner, is her favorite novel. She continued by telling me that she is a Hazara, of the same tribe as Hassan, one of the significant characters in The Kite Runner, and that she has experienced similar discrimination growing up in Afghanistan as he has in the novel. As IB learners I thought that the girls would benefit from meeting "S." and hearing her story, as it relates to The Kite Runner, and I asked her if she would be interested in talking to both of my classes. "S." graciously, and without any hesitation, accepted my invitation.
"S." had prepared a Power Point presentation in advance and she began by giving us a brief history of Afghanistan and telling us about her family. She then proceeded by relating her experiences growing up in Afghanistan to The Kite Runner. The thing that struck me the most was that "S." at such a young age was able to talk about her difficult experiences with such clarity and in such an unblemished manner. She has already gained perspective and made sense of her country’s violent history and the effect it has had, and still has, on her family and her people. "S." has decided not to let her experience bring her down; instead she has been able to turn it into something positive. She told the class about her volunteer work at the same orphanage in which one of the characters in The Kite Runner grew up. She and her sisters have had the rare opportunity to pursue an education and "S." is a courageous and passionate advocate for girls’ education and women’s rights. At a very young age she has her goals set and is determined to make a change in the world.
I was arriving a little later for school than I usually do, but I was nonetheless pretty sure it wasn't typical for a large group of students to be walking down the driveway. Maybe something special was going on at the barn? Or perhaps a science class was doing a lab by the pond? Suddenly, it hit me - it was our very first group of IB diploma candidates, walking down to Sally and Hank's house to take the first-ever IB exam in our school's history. I smiled and waved encouragingly, trying to make eye contact with as many students as possible, and wondered to myself at how so many truly significant moments appear so normal at the same time.
Ever since I came to Stoneleigh Burnham School in 2010, my interest in Women’s Activism has grown rapidly. I have spent three years engaging in intellectually stimulating conversations with many talented and promising young women. This school understands the importance of guiding young women to express themselves and seek change outside of the classroom. My goal is to bring in ideas and perspectives that will leave a lasting impression. We, as SBS girls, may live in a place where our voices can be heard, but in the outside world, women are often silenced. The oppression of women is not just a foreign issue, but increasingly present in the United States, where supposedly, “all citizens are created equal.” My frustration towards our gender’s oppression has inspired me to spread awareness to the SBS community. When I was given the opportunity to create a CAS (Community Action Service) project for the IB program, I immediately jumped at the opportunity to harness my passion for women’s activism and use it to inform the school. Ultimately I decided to create a Women’s Film Series, in which I would air inspiring documentaries and movies about the struggles of women around the world and the women who have led in the fight for equality.
On January 12th, the first night of my film series began with a showing of the documentary “Miss Representation,” directed by Jennifer Siebel. This is an inspiring film about the misrepresentation of women in the media. The students who attended this showing were outraged by how women are often portrayed in movies, TV shows, magazines and newspapers. Even the most powerful women in the United States, and throughout the world, have been bombarded with disrespect and mistreatment. The students left the film, feeling the need to seek change. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start this Film Series.
Filed Under: gender, Women, The Girls School Advantage, On Education, Beautifully different, MissRepresentation, Feminism, International Baccalaureate, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Education, film
It's all about the beanbags. The nine students in my Humanities 7 class had been adamant that we would able to fit the 22-27 relatives they were expecting for Family Weekend into our relatively small classroom, and when I demurred, they insisted that wherever we go, their beloved beanbag chairs should follow "because our parents should see what our class really looks like." So it was that I greeted Barbara, who was responsible this morning both for cleaning my regular classroom and for cleaning the Meeting Room where we would be moving for the day, at a bright and early 6:15 A.M. I had my temporary classroom set up, and chairs set out for visitors in the Jesser 3 classrooms, by 7:00, and zipped to the dining room to fill my travel mug with decaf (a special treat for a special day) and soy milk.
Filed Under: student voice, Family Weekend, On Education, On Parenting, In the Classroom, Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School, girls' school, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, International Baccalaureate, Equestrian Program, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School
Filed Under: Middle School, Teaching, Grades 7-12 and PG, On Education, Boarding and Day, All Girls Education, Bookends, In the Classroom, Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School, The Faculty Perspective, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, International Baccalaureate, Education, Admissions
By the time students enroll in the IB Diploma Programme they have amassed a great deal of knowledge. My job, as their Theory of Knowledge teacher, is to make them forget it.
Filed Under: Middle School, Teaching, Grades 7-12 and PG, On Education, Boarding and Day, College Prep, All Girls Education, Bookends, In the Classroom, The Faculty Perspective, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, International Baccalaureate, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Education, Admissions
"Bookends" is the ongoing conversation between Alex Bogel, "Theory of Knowledge" and standard-level IB English teacher and Bill Ivey, Humanities 7 teacher. It is an exploration of metacognition and their students' developing skills in critical thinking, reflective learning and more.
Filed Under: Teaching, Grades 7-12 and PG, Theory of Knowledge, On Education, Humanities 7, All Girls Education, Bookends, In the Classroom, Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School, The Faculty Perspective, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, International Baccalaureate, Education, Admissions
I had the opportunity this week to sit down with two girls enrolling in the IB Diploma Programme, a chance to talk about how they view their strengths and challenges as students, about where they see themselves in relation to the IB learner profile, and about why they’ve chosen to pursue the IB diploma. We took as our starting point the written reflections each diploma candidate submitted as part of her enrollment process.
As their current English teacher, I know both girls well as readers and writers, but this was an exciting chance to talk about learning free of content. Indeed, this is one way to describe the Theory of Knowledge seminar that is at the heart of the Diploma Programme: an investigation not of what we know, but what it means to know and learn. Our individual conversations underscored the exciting differences in perspective that Stoneleigh-Burnham students bring to our moments together.
As we near the end of February - months since my last entry (I note with chagrin...) - we are waiting impatiently to receive our official authorization to open as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School next fall. This is without doubt the biggest initiative in my three years of headship, and we have worked hard to establish this status. What will it mean to Stoneleigh-Burnham when all is said and done? A lot, including: