PERSONAL VISION OF A WELL-RUN ACADEMIC INSTITUTION
Written by Patrick O.
The primary focus of any reputable academic institution should be its students. While the most expensive environments provide comfort; and the most qualified teachers have the capacity to teach any topic within their realm of expertise, those two factors alone are not the foundational ingredients that foster the growth and development of a well-rounded, well-educated child. It is important to note that a large percentage of “successful” individuals around the globe (world class inventors, CEO’s, world leaders, high level government executives, etc) did not always have the best teachers or the most conducive academic environment during their formative years; they did however possess a concept of enhancing spirit, mind, and body either externally, or within themselves… which in my opinion is the prime constituent for an effective upbringing. An organization with the overarching capacity to enhance the spirit, mind, and body of a child is my personal vision of what must exist in a well-run academic institution.
Education is the most powerful tool for shaping futures. However, education goes far beyond outstanding classroom achievement and high exam scores; it is a concept that must enhance the individual as a whole, as well as create a person with the ability to independently guide their future in a direction that brings personal comfort, allows self-satisfaction, and fosters a desire to become positive, contributing members of society.
First point, the spirit: Fostering a proper spiritual mindset in a child transcends the basic, or even the extravagant religious lifestyle. Religion is not what I am talking about. A proper spiritual mindset involves the capacity to impart a certain level of character, integrity, and the ability to nurture personal (and professional) relationships; it provides a sense of empathy, discipline, positivity, sound decision making, and a warm reception to diversity. These traits cannot be learned by sitting in a classroom and/or taking an examination; they must be introduced and consistently instilled at a young age by parents, teachers, mentors, and every adult figure in a child’s life, to include teaching and non-teaching staff members of the child’s learning institution.
Secondly, the mind: For a child to live within their definition of success, they must learn to understand the world around them; and in order to do that, they must be encouraged and presented with the opportunity to grow mentally. Well-run academic institutions must push the concept that success comes from hard work, as well as the reality that growth in knowledge comes from the desire to seek that knowledge. Students must be given the chance to be creative… they must be consistently introduced to new ideas and taught how to think critically. They must learn to look at issues objectively, and figure out diverse ways to solve problems effectively.
Lastly, the body: There is a famous quote by Scottish Philosopher, Thomas Carlyle that says: “he who has health, has hope; and he who has hope, has everything.” Enhancing the health and personal fitness of kids goes well beyond the casual concept that “kids should just play and be active.” Proper nutrition and physical activity are the two sub-parts of this point. Physical activity is an avenue to teach and instill a sense of challenge, accomplishment, failure, and how to properly deal with those areas of life. It provides an avenue for healthy competition as well as a sense of self-awareness and personal capability. Proper nutrition at the same time enhances the body’s physical capacity for growth and development. It creates an image and lays a foundation for personal confidence, which in turn breeds a reputation of trust around a child.
At the end of the day, specific methods to accomplish everything mentioned above will vary… and those methods can only be pinpointed within the nature of the environment where the child is taught. I don’t believe that any of the points I mentioned above require a high-end academic environment or even top-performing staff members. The ones that guide the kids must only understand the value of making sure these attributes are instilled properly, and every other support platform in the child’s development can fall into place accordingly. Every child is different in the way they receive education and every teacher is different in the way that they present it. My expectations for any school that intends to be a great academic institution is that the administration clearly understands and works within the concepts I have explained above; and also that they consistently execute them accordingly, and in line with the school’s own vision for child development. It is important to have a strong academic and non-academic team of staff members that are committed to making a difference in students’ lives no matter the challenges… a team that is committed to the concept of creating a respectful, optimistic, encouraging, and motivation oriented climate for student learning. Such ideals must be constantly in the thoughts of each adult in their approach to education. Such a task is not for the faint of heart! Those that seek to go into elementary and/or secondary education should make it their personal mission to work hard, and a personal goal to dedicate themselves to instilling these foundational concepts… at the same time, continuously learn, grow, and present themselves as role models to the kids (the future) that they are trying to shape.