LEARNING FOR LIFE
“There are many approaches to learning,” says Dr Andy Davies, Head of School at the International School Bangkok (ISB). “At ISB, we have carefully defined the kind of learning we wish to see in the classroom and outside of school. We value learning that is meaningful, transferable to different situations and helps pupils create solutions to problems.” There are more than 1,800 students at ISB who, through this approach, are inspired to become capable, caring global citizens. In addition to receiving a high-quality education, pupils learn essential life skills such as how to deal with stress, how to resolve conflict and how to lead happy, passionate lives.
ISB, which is situated in extensive grounds 20 km from Thailand’s capital, caters for more than 60 nationalities – from American to Japanese to South African. This “rainbow mix” of pupils aged four to 18 benefits from this multicultural setting by learning to understand not only themselves but others too. “Our mission is to inspire students not only to achieve their academic potential, but also to have healthy, active and balanced lives,” says Dr Davies. “Research shows that children learn best if they’re happy and healthy.”
The greater good
To achieve this vision, ISB has been working with the Greater Good Science Center. Based at the University of California, the centre teaches skills that foster a thriving, resilient and compassionate society. This partnership has led to an advisory programme for middle and high school students that helps the school focus on developing students’ social and emotional skills.
Innovation at ISB is evident in a number of its programmes. Most recently, the school has dedicated resources to opening an outdoor wilderness campus two hours from Bangkok, to be built with environmentally sustainable practices.
A student-focused approach to learning can be seen in its “Passion Days”, school days where pupils have full freedom to focus their learning on a subject or project that they are passionate about or intrigued by. In addition, ISB has social entrepreneurship programmes and subjects such as design, photography and film. Design classes are housed in the school’s “Invention Centre”, equipped with both traditional and modern tools and technologies.
An essential role for Dr Davies and his colleagues is to prepare pupils for university. More than half go on to attend colleges in the United States and the rest go to institutions in Europe, Australia, Canada, India, Japan, South Korea and many other countries.
The fact the school achieved a 98 per cent pass rate last year (70 per cent is the world average) for the International Baccalaureate (IB) is testimony both to the dedication of its teachers and the motivation of its pupils. ISB has an international curriculum housed in a North American, standards-based framework, which is led by global best practices. ISB’s 220 expat teachers come from more than 20 countries and are supported by 300 Thai staff.
The school was founded by US Embassy staff in 1951 and is now celebrating its 65th anniversary. Back then, lessons were taught in a small wooden hut in the embassy’s grounds. It has since seen substational growth and development, but many of its values are still the same – to enable students to learn in a nurturing environment and to develop into well-rounded individuals. This provides them with all the skills they need to thrive as adults in a dynamic, increasingly globalised world.