Below you will find a selection of the most recent entries from bloggers in our Education section.
To view the entries from individual bloggers, click on the links below:
- Sarah Frei - Brillantmont International School
Head of Marketing and Communication at Brillantmont International School, Sarah is excited by the opportunities created by technology not only to communicate with the multicultural, far-flung school community but also to share knowledge and experiences about educational practice.
- Sabine Hutcheson
Sabine Hutcheson is a British-trained school teacher, with over a decade’s teaching experience in Switzerland, UK and neighbouring France. She has taught a variety of subjects to children from 5 to 18 years old, as well as adults, and is now Academic Director and Education Consultant at TutorsPlus. Visit www.tutorsplus.com to find out more about their educational consultancy, tuition service, special needs support and intensive SAT/ACT Prep and IGCSE & IB revision courses.
- Julie Tompkins-Wagner
Julie Tompkins-Wagner is an active concert pianist, music educator and administrator with over 40 years of experience, 27 of them in the International environment. She is passionate about the benefits of making music, bringing young musicians together and working with young people of all ages in order to help them gain the life skills that they will need for their future.
- Marianne Salem
Marianne Salem is the Executive Director of the Lake Leman International School (LLIS) in Morges, Vaud. Founded in 2011, the school offers education to students aged between 3 and 11, with flexible teaching that matches each student's needs and a strong focus on community engagement for both pupils and their families.
- Sara Dubler is responsible for advertising, digital marketing, and communications at Haut-Lac International Bilingual School in St-Légier-La Chiésaz near Vevey and also for developing the alumni network. She is a marketing enthusiast who is passionate about the digital world and enjoys combining her knowledge and skills to boost the vibrant school community and watch it thrive and develop.
- Denise Nickerson - Educational Consultant
Co-author of Know-it-all passport’s Education Guide Switzerland, Denise has been a speaker in over 300 international schools in 30 different countries. Working as a college and university counselor, and as an educational consultant helping families around the world, she also provides training and development for educators in schools and universities, and is passionate about international education!
By Sarah Frei, Brillantmont International School
Hard as it is to think about school when the sun burns bright above, it is nevertheless that time of year again when children are sharpening their pencils, packing their bags and worrying about what to wear on the first day back. Indeed, some may already be back in the classroom.
I'm lucky: my own two children love school and even during the first week of July were talking about the next school year, when frankly I was fed up with hearing the « s » word. However, for many children, returning to school can be a huge source of anguish, giving them a twisted knot in the pit of their stomachs. The root cause may have nothing at all to do with the learning: rather, the fears that torment them are about fitting in, popularity, being one of the crowd.
Middle School students are at a particularly vulnerable age. Look around any Middle School classroom and you'll see what I mean. The flat chested thirteen year old sits next to the eleven year old who still likes to play with Barbies but who struggles to accept that she already has the fully developed body of a grown woman. As for the boys, the one hunched up in the corner, attempting to hide the glaring pimples barely concealed in the dark stubble covered behind his hand, clearly eats industrial strength fertiliser every morning since he grows at least 5cm every night. His neighbour, meanwhile, would be blown over by a sudden gust of wind.
By Marianne Salem, Lake Leman International School, www.llis.ch
Your child isn’t reading at the same level as his or her classmates, or perhaps hasn’t as good a grasp of mathematics and science. Is it time to call in the specialists, or track down a tutor and pay for extra classes? We say no. Just like every adult has different abilities, every child is unique and learns at a different pace. It’s not about judging your child against the progress of others, rather it’s about helping them to find their path to fulfilling their own potential.
Education at its own speed
Some children have a natural aptitude for maths, while others have an affinity for the arts. Yet as parents, we may naturally want them to excel at subjects we believe will suit them best in life, gearing them towards traditional professions in law, medicine, engineering and academia.
by Sara Dubler, www.haut-lac.ch
In recent years, a great deal has been written on the various aspects of an international education, in particular about parent considerations and student benefits. This is mainly due to the continuing growth in the number of such schools year on year. Bilingualism and even multilingualism are often qualities associated with an International School due to the fact there are various nationalities represented, hence more languages spoken than there would be in a public school. Having said this, there are times when a parent, concerned with making the best choice for their child, comes to the conclusion that a bilingual education may not be the most appropriate option.
By Marianne Salem, Lake Leman International School, www.llis.ch
By focusing on academic testing and grading, are we threatening our children’s love of learning? Leading thinkers in education believe so, citing widespread problems at the heart of mainstream and state-led schooling across the world.
What do the experts say?
Sir Anthony Seldon, vice-chancellor of Buckingham University in the UK and former Master of Wellington College, a leading independent school, said that too many schools worldwide had adopted an “exams-factory” approach thereby neglecting students’ wellbeing and character development.
“Anybody who says you can reduce the purpose of education to the passing of tests is guilty of adopting that approach… exams and tests matter but they’re not all that matters and the problem is they are seen by many to be all-embracing,” said Sir Anthony in an Independent.co.uk report.
By Julie Tompkins-Wagner, www.Julie-music.com
As a performing arts educator, I am often putting my students on stage in all kinds of settings. I believe that this is a crucial part of their overall education and preparation for life. From the earliest years, encouraging your child to step up, prepare and deliver a performance is something that cannot be learned in any other way than by doing. As soon as children are old enough to speak clearly, sing a little song or move to some music, having them perform in front of an audience of any kind, be it large or small, family and friends, at school in a group or on stage in a recital, on their own or with a group, at school or summer camp, teaches your child how to face an audience and present themselves.
Just think about how many times in life those skills come in to play. Whether presenting a project at school, interviewing for university entrance, an internship or a job, or on the job—presenting your product, your marketing or organizational plan, or an idea of any sort, the presentation skills are all a part of life.
Whether at my Summer Music Program or in music lessons, I always make sure that even the youngest children perform. At a young age, most of them don’t get nervous. It is only when they reach an age where they realize that failure is a possibility that they start to get nervous—somewhere around 9-10 years old. But if they have been performing since the age of 4 or 5, it becomes a natural part of what they do through music, dance, and drama lessons. When the children come home with a part in a play or concert at school, encourage them to learn their part well, even if it is only a small part or part of the chorus, every performing opportunity is just that, a golden opportunity to build life skills. With each successful performance, the children build much-needed confidence.
I don’t believe any performance can be a failure—it is a learning experience and a step to improving the next performance. What went wrong and what went right? How can one improve? Did the student practice enough to have the needed confidence to perform? (this is probably the most common cause of insecurity and mistakes.) Did they lose concentration on stage because of noise in the audience or lights shining on them? So many things can happen, and yet learning to cope with these challenges is well worth the benefits.
Don’t expect perfection. No one is perfect. The most famous concert artists, actors and other performers can all tell you stories of the disaster(s) that happened to them. And if they are honest, they will tell you that no performance is ever perfect. But were they able to connect to their audience and communicate what was need for a successful performance? That’s the key. Because performing also requires such skills as improvisation, keeping concentration under trying circumstances, and thinking on one’s feet. Whether one ends up being a stay-at-home parent or a CEO, those are skills that always come in handy.
Then there are the children who are, literally, terrified of getting on stage and performing. Pushing a child to the point of tears and distress is not ever going to gain anyone anything except more tears, distress and a real fear of performing. However I will often use some pretty strong persuasion to get them on stage if I can. I will play a duet with them so that I am sitting right next to them on stage, or put them in a group so that they don’t feel alone. If possible, I make the “stage” area feel as comfortable and cozy as possible, rehearsing in advance, having the children perform for other children before adults arrive and even standing or sitting in such a way so that they cannot actually see the audience as they play. Having done it once, twice or more, they then realize that it won’t actually kill them to perform, and the praise, applause and positive feedback just might be worth the effort next time.
Performing as an end in and of itself is really only for those who love it, but the benefits of practicing performance skills, can benefit everyone.
All photos taken at the Summer Music Program 2015, www.Julie-music.com
Julie Tompkins-Wagner is an active concert pianist, music educator and administrator with over 40 years of experience, 27 of them in the International environment. She is currently the Head of the Music Academy at GEMS World Academy-Etoy as well as the Director of Pianoforte Productions, the Summer Music Program, and the Artistic Director of the Geneva Youth Ensemble.
Julie holds a Master of Music degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and English from the University of California, Berkeley. She is a qualified I.G.C.S.E. examiner and is active in the Associated Boards of the Royal Schools of Music examination program. She is passionate about the benefits of making music, bringing young musicians together and working with young people of all ages in order to help them gain the life skills that they will need for their future.
Other interests include photography, writing, travel, gardening, Scouting and the Kosovo Musical Project. Julie has participated in several photography exhibitions and is a published author. She has numerous recordings available under the pianoforte productions label.