Sunday, January 21, 2018

Food for Thought: Schools of the future

Dear all,

I hope that you had a good social on Friday and are having a relaxing weekend.

I was looking for a video about positive emotions and how we can get them more firmly embedded into our everyday lives in school. Interestingly, whilst about to pull on my shirt yesterday morning i notice that the label in the collar was not washing instructions or the brand and size but rather a simple message, "Choose to be Happy Today." I thought what a good way to start your thinking for a day. Anyway I digress. Whilst looking for a video I received this TED talk entitled searching for Aha moments. Thinking that this might relate directly to positive emotions and that feeling of awe I decided to watch. as it turned out it didn't relate as much to positive emotions as to education and providing yet more thoughts on the directions that we are going and how we can develop academic mastery, social intelligence and creative thinking all at the same time.

This talk uses very similar ideas and language to that which we have in our mission and have been exploring over the last linking clearly to engaging and empowering as well as our culture of achievement. Matt Goldman ask big questions about why schools have allowed so many to struggle in a system that has not adapted its learning environment. He became successful in areas where school labelled him as a failure. By starting his own school he wants to make "Aha" moments happen more regularly and deliberately for students. He has developed a structure of around 8 values that he believes will create an environment in which creative thinking can occur in a safe learning environment. Here are his key drivers for making this happen. Notice how close they are to thinks that we so often talk about:

  1. Clear intent, purpose and assion
  2. Personal integrity
  3. direct communication and clear explanation
  4. Grit and perserverence
  5. Collaborative teams
  6. Embrace multiple perspectives
  7. Take risks and celebrate mistakes
  8. Speak in one voice

If you watch the video he explains this a little more.

Whilst searching for more information about Matt Goldman's Blue school, I discovered this expanding group of schools in the UK, Studio Schools, that further reflect the path that schools could be going to ensure that all students can be successful. It is a very interesting combination of academics and vocational training. An advanced form of personalized learning which is as you know a strand of the Cognita way. It is only 6 minutes long and again provides possibilities for the direction that we can move with secondary students even here in Vietnam given the contacts that we have through our parent body.

Have a good Sunday,


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Food for Thought: Helping ourselves.

Dear all,

What a great start to the second part of the school year. Thanks to all your hard work on Monday and Tuesday both campuses looked great on Wednesday and all our students seemed excited to be back at school and ready to dive into learning. walking around both the Primary and Secondary it was clear that you had prepared some interesting activities for the students as they were immediately engaged in their work.

I hope you all enjoyed the visit of Jason and his work on Philosophy for Children. I believe that if we get our students thinking like philosophers and following clear thinking strategies then we will be preparing our students well for the future and empowering them to be able to articulate their feelings and thoughts in a well structure manner no matter who the audience.

This weeks Food for Thought focuses on you. The second part of the year has started at an incredible pace and as always time plays a big factor in whether one is able to flow with the torrent or start to feel stressed anxious and drowning. Hence, I thought this first short Ted Ed video that provides advice that can save us all time, especially when dealing with those endless lists of emails, might be a useful tool for helping us reflect upon our time management processes. This video shows us how we can use machine thinking to help us in our lives.

In this second part of my Food For Thought I would encourage you to take this opportunity to learn more about Mindfulness by participating in this 10 day free summit. Her is the link THE MINDFULNESS AND MEDITATION SUMMIT ONLINE EXPERIENCE. 32 thought leaders from the world of meditation and mindfulness will be running sessions and giving workshops during this summit and here are some of the areas that will be covered.



Learn emerging tools and principles for amplifying and accelerating the benefits of mindfulness meditation—creativity, mental focus, emotional calm


Experience the shift from a limited self–identity to a vaster consciousness that connects us to all of humanity and the planet
Mindful Kids


For parents, caregivers, and educators, discover the keys for nurturing emotional calm, interpersonal mastery, and success in children
Mindful Kids


Use mindfulness training to amplify your ability to bounce back from failure, intense exertion, and setbacks
Taking Action


Discover how mindfulness can radically shift how you face and engage with racial and social biases, conflicts, and crises of all kinds
Work-Life Balance


Work together better, become a more compassionate leader, and nurture a more successful organization
As we have enjoyed the Philosophy man working with us in school this week it would seem appropriate that I include a philosophical article that encourages us to think and question. Hence, I thought I'd share the following article linked to sustainability and the need for us to be prepared to be able to take action that changes the way we live our lives in favor of a more simple existence. This article comes from AEON magazine which publishes very interesting essays on a wide range of topics.

" The he good life is the simple life. Among philosophical ideas about how we should live, this one is a hardy perennial; from Socrates to Thoreau, from the Buddha to Wendell Berry, thinkers have been peddling it for more than two millennia. And it still has plenty of adherents. Magazines such as Real Simple call out to us from the supermarket checkout; Oprah Winfrey regularly interviews fans of simple living such as Jack Kornfield, a teacher of Buddhist mindfulness; the Slow Movement, which advocates a return to pre-industrial basics, attracts followers across continents.
Through much of human history, frugal simplicity was not a choice but a necessity – and since necessary, it was also deemed a moral virtue. But with the advent of industrial capitalism and a consumer society, a system arose that was committed to relentless growth, and with it grew a population (aka ‘the market’) that was enabled and encouraged to buy lots of stuff that, by traditional standards, was surplus to requirements. As a result, there’s a disconnect between the traditional values we have inherited and the consumerist imperatives instilled in us by contemporary culture.
In pre-modern times, the discrepancy between what the philosophers advised and how people lived was not so great. Wealth provided security, but even for the rich wealth was flimsy protection against misfortunes such as war, famine, disease, injustice and the disfavour of tyrants. The Stoic philosopher Seneca, one of the richest men in Rome, still ended up being sentenced to death by Nero. As for the vast majority – slaves, serfs, peasants and labourers – there was virtually no prospect of accumulating even modest wealth...................................................... read more
Have a good Sunday,

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Food For Thought: Controlling our emotions

Dear all,

Wishing you all a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful 2018.

I hope you all had a relaxing and refreshing vacation. Welcome back to what should be a very exciting 2018 as we continue to challenge education and prepare our students for their future's.

I wasn't going to send a Food for Thought this weekend but then I watched a TED talk by Lisa Feldman Barrett and thought that it is important that I share as we have such a big year ahead of us in 2018. Last year we spent time thinking about and focusing on our 10 Positive Emotions that can and do impact our lives. We did this work because it is very important that we are able to model positive emotional behaviors for our students as we create a school based around the concepts of Positive Education. With a new secondary campus about to open and massive refurbishment work taking place at the Primary campus there will be many emotional moments ahead for all of us. Hence, watching this TED talk which explains that we aren't at the mercy of our emotions but that our brains create them might be useful for us all to understand better. Of course, as Ms Feldma Barrett concludes, this means that we have to take responsibility for our emotions as they are based upon our previous experiences and predictions. However, this also means that by creating new ways of thinking about experiences etc we can control our emotional responses.

Again this research leads directly back to our mission and the word empowerment: giving students the skills to take control of their lives. The more we enable our students and our self's, through mindfulness, to understand and take control of our minds, the healthier and more successful will be our lives.

I hope you find the talk interesting.

Have a great 2018.