We learn in all sorts of ways, in school and in life. We learn by doing, we learn by talking about what we know, and by demonstrating what we know. But there is another way we learn which is perhaps undervalued yet even more powerful. It happens not when we are talking or doing it, but when we are listening to other people. The photographs below are from the Theory of Knowledge presentations that took place earlier this week in Gávea.
The learners in the room were not the presenters, but those listening to the presentations. It was the listeners who were learning, not those speaking. In a world awash with debates, strong opinions, and invested positions, it is helpful to remember the power of listening to the views and opinions of others if we really want to learn. A key element of an IB education is the ability to be reflective and to be open-minded: to “seek and evaluate a range of points of view”, rather than focus on our own. I remember that my High School French Teacher, Mr. Steeple, gave me some advice that has stayed with me ever since: “You have two ears and one mouth. Try to use them in the same proportion”. It was a useful lesson to learn and one that continues to remind me that I will always learn something from listening to others.
Dr. Nigel J Winnard
Head of School
In my role as Director of Advancement & Admissions at EARJ, I get to meet lots of families from all over the world. I get to see people at all points of their journey in life. It makes me think of just how different we all are, and the different paths we take. It’s also an opportunity for me to look back and reflect on the different journeys I had in my own life.
I used to ride the city bus a lot when I was young. I would go around the whole city, in a time when uber was not an option and taxis were way too expensive. I enjoyed taking the bus because it meant independence for me. I would go anywhere I wanted to, and I was never shy to ask the driver or a passenger for information. I followed the “bus protocols” to always hold someone’s bag when I had a seat, or to offer my seat to someone older. Of course, I took the wrong bus many times and got late due to bus delays, but it was all part of my learning process to become an independent individual.
I enjoyed looking at the people who probably had a life completely different from mine: workers, students from other schools, parents… all in the same vehicle, but heading different paths. The funny thing was that no matter where each passenger was heading, they were usually the same people, at the same time, catching the same bus.
When life would change for some reason, I would change the bus and the bus stop, and would eventually have new companions in my journey, never seeing those “ex bus-peers” again. But when I eventually crossed paths with some of them on the street, we would look at each other and just smile silently, meaning “yes, we are on different rides now: I wish you the best of luck in your new journey and hope we take the same ride again someday”. There was always a silent but positive connection in that smile.
Fast forward to where I am now, at the start of a new school year at EARJ, welcoming over 150 new students to our Community across Barra and Gávea campuses, happily watching them all start their own new ride.
Looking into the life of an international community, the entire world is the bus stop: parents may bump into someone here in Rio who they first met in Singapore, London, or Luanda, ten, twenty, thirty years ago… And the same goes for the students: they may, in 20 years from now, find themselves in a meeting room somewhere with someone they met this week, at EARJ’s playground. I can’t help but find it fascinating.
So here’s a thing: don’t underestimate any connections you make in life, because your paths may eventually cross again someday. Beautiful lifelong friendships will be starting this week at EARJ, not only among students, but also among parents; just peer-to-peer relationships will start as well, and that’s ok too. Just make sure you are open to connect, smile, be kind, and most importantly, enjoy the ride!
Today was a pretty special day. We were proud to welcome so many new families for our Orientation day today: we have over 150 new students joining EARJ across our campuses!
It was a day of smiles, laughter, welcomes and yes, maybe one or two few tears from some of our younger students. After all, it’s a very emotional thing. A new school, new people, a new environment – it can all be a little overwhelming. We understand, which is why at EARJ we are committed to student welfare and wellbeing first, last, and always. We also understand that it is emotional for you as parents, particularly if you are starting your child at a new school. Will she be happy? Will he make friends? Will they be able to cope? Please know – we understand! It is incredibly important to us that each and every student feels a sense of belonging at EARJ. Of course, that doesn’t happen magically on Day 1. It may take a little time, but we are committed to making it happen. We all need to feel that we belong, and children need to feel that even more.
Whether you are new to EARJ or you are a returning family, we look forward to welcoming you on Monday for what will be the start of the 86th year of the EARJ story. On behalf of the entire EARJ team, we wish you all a fantastic
Dr. Nigel J. Winnard
Head of School