Tattooing is the most misunderstood art form in Japan today. Looked down upon for centuries and rarely discussed in social circles, people with tattoos are outcasts in this country, banned from most public spaces such as beaches, bathhouses, and even gyms. Tattoos have an extensive history in Japan, and to truly understand the stigma behind them it is essential to be aware of their significance. The first records of tattoos...Read More
Speaking with Steve Hargadon on Eluminate had that familiar quality of camaraderie that one typically experiences while sitting with a friend, talking over a strong cup of coffee, deeply engaged in a dynamic conversation. Instead, I was sitting in my own living room, in Montreal while Aron was in Beijing and hearing all the computer clicking sounds of participants exchanging ideas, emails, questions made it interactive and very 21st century.
The thoughtful questions being asked by Steve, as moderator were complimented by a host of participants from around the globe who asked pertinent questions in the Q & A. This interactive audience provided just the right mix of distraction and engagement to give a sense of immediacy, making our interview feel very alive. Steve, as moderator, was already familiar with TGS, having researched about TGS through our website, so his questions were both timely and meaningful. I particularly enjoyed his playful curiosity. His questions reflected a real understanding of the issues facing education, globally, in the 21st century.
The hour-long interview provided a forum for global listeners to learn more about TGS, our goals, challenges, and vision. The first challenge facing TGS was actually to create it, to believe in its possibility, to take the leap from mere idea to reality. That took the imagination and drive of our founder, Joann McPike. Many months later, the reality of creating and crafting a curriculum that embraces this vision has been slowly coming together. Sharing the process involved in piecing together such an innovative curriculum intrigued Steve. One question he asked particularly struck me, “does the curriculum start with the assumption of a global vision” and indeed it does. Imagining, believing, researching, collaborating and creating a team to piece it all together. This is what we have been doing.
One question that managed to get a few giggles from the audience included, “how we expect to deal with the realities of 15 boys and girls living together – in other words, how did we expect to deal with the issue of romance”? Romance is part of life as students mature so it makes perfect sense to respond in a way that reflects this notion, knowing that TGS students will have boundaries like every boarding school to ensure students are safe, respectful and learn to make good decisions.
Given the unique nature of TGS, is was not surprisingly that one of Steve’s questions included, “how selective are the students forming the first class of 2010/11? How did we choose them? We had the chance to reflect on the selection process, which is still very fresh in our minds. What emerged is that TGS is not only concerned with choosing strong academic students, very importantly, TGS has sought creative, curious students who feel compelled to make a difference; in themselves, their communities and the world. Some students have sought out TGS themselves while others were recommended to us through word of mouth, an NGO, or another school.
Taking 15 young people from country to country is not your ordinary experience and so, the question regarding security was bound to come up. ‘Trusting the world’ and knowing the difference between what makes a country or city safe and unsafe was one key point that Aron Solomon pointed out. Security considerations go beyond the physical world into the virtual and determining how to make our students safe and aware is something TGS plans to teach and train both students and faculty, proactively, rather than reactively.
The curriculum questions posed by Steve centered on understanding just how TGS plans to achieve its goals of a holistic, integrated, innovative curriculum that focuses on learning through a cultural lens and travel from country to country. What exactly are we hoping TGS students to learn beyond the travel, what kind of citizens are we aiming to foster? Taking the core concepts of philanthropy and service learning, finding the time and care to make it genuine and authentic is an integral part of ensuring service learning can happen. TGS has taken a very different attitude to organizing scheduling; starting first with our vision and needs and then building a timetable reflecting these goals.
What also became clear is how TGS is on the edge of discovering a different way of teaching, learning, and educating our future generation. Now, we are just waiting for the experience to unfold. September is just not coming quickly enough.