Headmaster’s Educational Philosophy
I believe a school to be an organism and the present planning for Royal School in Transylvania is in the embryonic stage. The planning is in process and it will allow Royal School to grow and evolve into a leading educational institution inside Romania by 2025. There will be no half-measures. Children fortunate to study here will receive a cutting-edge education without parallel. They will receive the best. I am presently focused on the essential preliminaries to opening a gate onto a pathway of learning for everyone within the Royal School community. I wish to ground the future developments of this institution into the belief system contained in this philosophy statement. Jean Piaget described an organism as ‘a machine engaged in transformation’. This school will be a human machine with intrinsic and delicate parts. Each individual inside this community will be a strategically located piece in the engine that will help to motor the whole machine. Everybody will count. All will be empowered. Royal School will always expect everybody to do their best.
All children, whatever their conditions, need the requisite skills for a happy life. All children crave attention, self-esteem, social acceptance and the fundamental skills for learning, and literacy and numeracy that will nourish confident expression and self-empowerment. The thinking of Piaget, Froebel and Robert Owen conditions my own teaching philosophy. The clarity of Michael Apple’s educational ideas also impresses me massively. The philosophy of Plato’s children of gold, silver and bronze maybe dismissed as a purely political recipe for the education and preservation of elites. There can be no toleration for political ideology within a pluralist and inclusive system of education. Every child is entitled to equality of opportunity in education and quality of learning experience, with differentiated lessons and differentiation by outcome being the chief criteria for assessment. I believe all children, regardless of physical or cerebral difference have innate skills; these may be latent skills but they are waiting for discovery, delivery and development. A professional pedagogue, therefore, must possess reserves of enthusiasm, constancy, stamina and empathy. All effective teachers must seek continuous personal improvement inside the learning environment, and all effective teachers will also learn from the children themselves; and we must all seek after excellent classroom craft.
I have been a career teacher for thirty-six years and continue to see that the fundamental skills learned as a postgraduate trainee gather more significance the longer I work within the profession. Most young teachers enter the profession with an idealised and simplistic philosophy set alongside clear personal objectives yet the experience of the craft in the classroom itself becomes the ultimate teacher. During my career, I have taught and learned within a broad range of contrasting educational environments and I have always endeavoured to master the craft of the classroom in the quest to become a proficient teacher, colleague and leader. I constantly strive to better myself within the learning environment.
Fundamental to my personal philosophy is the knowledge that a school is a community that should be a microcosm and mirror to its hinterland. Within a school, each member of the community seeks to enquire after knowledge – for this provides truth. We are all seekers after truth and it is the quality of information and skills we acquire, that allows us to propose solutions to problems whether they are academic, personal or social. As a community, a school will demand collaborative and cooperative effort, so order and empathy are essential prerequisites to development of product. A teacher must demonstrate expertise and knowledge whilst remaining able to differentiate information to listeners, readers and speakers of varying cognitive abilities. An effective teacher will strive for mastery over communications, management of order, materials and environment, planning and preparation, written evaluation, guided practice and monitoring. This is why I always promote the ‘nine dimensions’ to my colleagues. And beyond that, extended professional behaviour on Hoyt’s Model.
Teaching is a demanding vocation but the teacher must never lose sight of the child in question, for he or she remains the focus for pedagogy. The parent may be the client who chooses the school but the child is the consumer who should be entitled to receive the best product. The key for learning success comes through the establishment of trust. Honesty, integrity and consistency are qualities which children recognise, warm to and come to value highly – also too eccentricity which children can find engaging in teachers. Such qualities assist the building of trust and so become the basis for sound learning. To these ends, I have always sought to make learning an enjoyable pursuit. School life has to be enjoyed, and not simply endured for education today and tomorrow will remain a lifelong pursuit, a lifelong process in an increasingly complicated, competitive, skills orientated and technological world. In a world of finite and diminishing resources, skills and knowledge will become an increasingly rare and required resource in this age of credentials. So children should enjoy school and feel safe and happy, but children must also be prepared, to be nudged, as well as nurtured. Children need to learn good behaviour and the ability to get on with others, and a teacher must treat all students fairly whilst providing the fullest opportunity for learning. This will ultimately enable the child to make his or her own best choices. It is the quality of wits, rather than the quantity of wits, that I wish to cultivate in a child’s mind.
Therefore, the curriculum inside Royal School must embrace a twin-track policy. We must provide excellent schooling that teaches how to live, and an education that teaches how to make a living. I seek to promote a curriculum and philosophy, for learning and living, that will produce creative, tolerant, inclusive, participative, internationalist and environmentally alert young people who can go onto become real global citizens for this postmodern world. It is an ambitious project. Our education provision will help children learn and achieve academic successes but this will be central to a composite entity that includes moral, spiritual, social and cultural dimensions. A child will enter our community as a question mark but not exit it as a full stop, for none of us is ever complete.
Finally, I address the question of leadership. I believe a school is like a ship, and her captain is no good if he does not look consistently ahead into the future. I need to look very far ahead across largely uncharted waters before the good ship of Royal School is to reach her intended port safely. The importance between a good or bad ship is not simply a question of catchment area or sound finances; the quality of leadership is a critical ingredient as a school is a complex and unpredictable enterprise engaged in organic transformations. Good leadership requires time, ingenuity, patience and empathy, a combination of tact and, sometimes, ruthless forcefulness.
A good director should have strong private certainties and a broad vision combined with respect for detail, allied with a strong sense of humour. These qualities tend to be idiosyncratic but bland socialite leadership often prevents the actuality of a smoothly running school. Therefore, character can be a satisfactory substitute for genius. I leave others to judge my character but not my honesty. I allow teachers space to develop their styles, and together as a collaborative and collegial crew we will navigate the good ship Royal School successfully on her future voyage. I intend to build a great school and I shall constantly strive to make it bigger, better, braver and brighter, ever more stimulating and more challenging. To these ends, I shall always welcome external inspections into the school to prove the value of everything we do and deliver. We will strive to become the flagship school provider in Romania and acquire recognition from all the major accrediting bodies as guarantors to the quality of our educational brand. I am ready to be associated with this educational adventure and eagerly anticipate all the remarkable events ahead. This will not be a community for faint hearts. We will be brave, honest and hardworking. Contact us. Visit us and see us, and hear what your children say.