This will be my last Food for Thought post as part of ISHCMC, as I leave for Thailand this Sunday (30th), and a change in career and lifestyle. I promise to keep it brief.
I want to start by sharing this humorous and yet thought-provoking video, by one of the people who first started me seriously questioning my educational beliefs, Sir Ken Robinson. Sadly, he passed this week and all we have now are the memories of his provoking TED talks, books, and interviews to encourage us to keep questioning our role as educators. I know you will have seen this video before but it is worth taking 20 minutes to re-watch an outstanding public speaker and activist for educational change in action.
Although I am leaving ISHCMC it will always have an important place in my heart, hence the quote from Romeo and Juliet. I will not forget all the years we have spent together building our learning community and I confidently look forward to hearing about its future growth as a progressive and challenging education for students in HCMC.
However, this would not be a Food for Thought without a final provocation. I have spent 38 years in education. The world has changed enormously in that time and is in many ways quite unrecognizable from the early 1980s when I started teaching. One of the most serious changes has been the shift in wealth and income distribution in favor of a very small minority, 1%. How this small group of businessmen is wielding their power and influencing all our lives, through the pursuit of their priorities rather than those of the majority, impacts us all. Although I regret little about my time in education, I do wonder whether I could have done more to ensure that I was not contributing to the rhetoric and mantras that support the thinking of this group.
Although you may not share my political beliefs I do feel you have a role to play in ensuring that ISHCMC students, who are very privileged, do not exploit their advantages, and do sincerely reach out and support others who are less fortunate, by taking action and thinking beyond themselves for the well being of all of society. Having lived and worked in developing countries for most of my career, Mexico, Kenya, Thailand, and Vietnam I do worry that I have been seeing a greater degree of entitlement and superiority amongst many international students and their parents.
Here is a good TED to end my final provocation.
"What accounts for our polarized public life, and how can we begin to heal it? Political philosopher Michael Sandel offers a surprising answer: those who have flourished need to look in the mirror. He explores how "meritocratic hubris" leads many to believe their success is their own doing and to look down on those who haven't made it, provoking resentment and inflaming the divide between "winners" and "losers" in the new economy. Hear why we need to reconsider the meaning of success and recognize the role of luck in order to create a less rancorous, more generous civic life."
To finish I would again like to thank you all for your support over the past seven years. For believing in our mission and working hard to make it come true. We have achieved so much in a relatively short time. I wish you all a wonderful future.
To reassure you that I am leaving the country, and will not reappear on Monday, I have under the guardianship of Doug, Kate and Will, officially gonged out this morning. Here is the proof.
Best wishes, stay safe, healthy and happy,