The View From My Study 25th November
I remember, once, staring at an enormous road sign with words, distances and directions clear for everyone to see. And yet I had no clue where to go, because it was in a language I did not understand, with characters I could not comprehend. I was in Tokyo but separated from the group I had been with. Isolated. Alone. Exposed to a culture that, at the time, I knew little about, and very anxious about where to go and what to do.
From that situation, I learnt very swiftly the importance of appreciating different cultures and how to communicate with others, even if one does not share the same language. Many business leaders today rate knowledge and awareness of the wider world as important a skill as the ability to speak a foreign language. While they still regard language skills as important, it is the ‘soft’ skills of cultural awareness and understanding global issues that are particularly, and increasingly, valued.
Being globally aware is one of the core characteristics of a BG Learner for this reason; we recognise that there are incredible opportunities created by the diversity and richness of culture across the planet, and in order to access these opportunities, we have to appreciate them.
This week, I have been visiting Rugby School Thailand, our sister school in the group, to meet staff, observe lessons, see the physical developments and discuss a range of educational matters that are common (and not-so-common) to our schools. It has been lovely to see children from a completely different cultural context engaging in similar activities and being rewarded in similar ways for the same learning skills that we value in the UK. One child told me this morning why he was a ‘caring koala’, just as another boy did in Pre-Prep last week!
The partnership between Bilton Grange, Rugby School Thailand and soon-to-open Rugby School Japan is so important and provides a gilt-edged opportunity to develop global minds that are aware of the issues and challenges we face, such as international development, sustainability, climate change and conflict resolution. Whether the children from these schools meet each other face to face (which will happen) or remotely through a screen, there is a lot that can be learned, and I am excited about the possibilities ahead, both for the children and for the staff too.
(Incidentally, for those who were wondering, I found my way home in Tokyo despite not being able to read the signs; but that’s another story for another time!)
Gareth Jones, Headmaster