So a family weekend away, visits from family, illness and the mammoth task of reading 85 residential reflections (fantastic by the way!) have kept me away from this blog. But I promised I would discuss some of those residential reflections and award a blogger of the week for the best one, so I’ve finally got my act together this Saturday morning.
To be honest I’m still feeling the sting of jealousy over the residential! Usually I would get to go on this one – spend more time with my IB students and watch them come together in tutor groups and as a year group. However, with Mr Lautrette being the tutor for 12B it was important that he go, and so I stayed home to look after my own children this time round.
But, reading the reflections it is evident how much fun students had. Miss Barnard put in a huge number of hours planning the trip and organising safety and security so the fact that the students had such a great time makes it worth it and I’m pleased to see how many students took time to thank their teachers both in person and on their blogs.
One of the things that struck me was the number of students who started their blogs with ‘I wasn’t looking forward to it…’ ‘We’ve been there before…’, ‘My friends convinced me to go…’ and the fact that none of these blogs ended with ‘and I was right all along..it was rubbish..’ Everyone of these blogs said how wrong they had been.
I think this is important. It’s important because it demonstrates the humble skill of admitting you could be wrong – that’s good, that’s reflective and an important basis of successful relationship building. I also think there is a lesson to be learned about assumptions.
When I was a kid, my mum used to tell me, ‘never assume, you make an ass out of u and me’. She thought it was a funny play on words with a little lesson there, but it’s amazing how it has stuck with me as a sort of mantra. And I’ve definitely learned the truth of it over the years!
We learn in TOK about reason and inductive reasoning and the way we essentially generalise from an assumption. Really, this is at the root of stereotyping. We take a look at someone and assume all sorts of things about them based completely on our own experiences and beliefs. A related concept in TOK is the notion of Confirmation Bias. This means that we have a tendency to look for what confirms our own beliefs and ignore stuff that contradicts what we believe or assume.
In asking our students to write about two people who surprised them on the residential, Miss Barnard had them challenge their assumptions and asked then to circumvent their confirmation bias.
If we are to fulfil the mission of making the world a better place, then being cognisant of the assumptions we make and acting to challenge those assumptions rather than confirming them seems to me to be really important. Mr Thirkell talks often about the fact that in CAS our students challenge assumptions. Kids at Sekolah Bisa, no birth certificates. their fate seemingly sealed by society based on assumptions of what poverty entails, and our students act against that, to give them education, health and a place in society. I listened to Lukas and Raven explain to prospective parents about BERTHA this week, and what struck me was the way they challenged the assumption of us at BSJ that the old computers we had were now worthless, and what good their challenge is now doing for the world.
These are big examples of something which can also be very small but no less important. What assumptions do we make about others on a daily basis? How often do we believe we know what someone else is thinking, or why they are behaving in a certain way? And, wouldn’t it be better just to ask? To approach others with understanding, to discuss, to listen, but not to assume that what we see is the full story.
And the important thing, kindness costs nothing.
While Year 12 were away on residential it was ‘random act of kindness week’ at BSJ. Honestly, my first thoughts were that we shouldn’t need a special week just to be kind, but actually throughout that week lots of people did little extra things which really brightened up our days at school. Someone left an apple on my desk with a note that said ‘eat me’. A simple thing, but the fact that someone was looking out for me meant a huge amount. The residential blog posts are filled with acts of kindness: ‘I never knew that Hyo Jun was so positive’, ‘Ji Woo’s painting skills are amazing’, ‘Wilson was so confident and brave in the lip-sync challenge’. I so hope that Year 12 can keep this positive, kind, assumption-challenging spirit throughout the rest of IB and in the years to come!
I want to highlight some posts that stand out of all the residential reflections.
Rania provides a wonderful dose of positivity and Owen even manages to find a positive memory for Mr Morris and a paintball shot to the head! I loved Audrey’s post which takes post of the week for being reflective, detailed and highly entertaining.
Blogger of the Week though has to be Valerie, who all in all wrote 4 reflective blog posts on the residential, including what she learned about herself and others and plenty of pictures to entertain us. Well done Valerie!
I leave you with a link, to 20 things you should never assume. Number 1 I think is a good reminder for teachers, parents and students everywhere. It’s frustrating sometimes, but very true. Number 2 is a big deal. IB students, there is no shame in asking for help – in fact the very opposite is what hurts your credibility. As teachers is is hard to understand – we are here to help you, but not everybody is willing to say ‘hey I don’t get it, help me out’ or ‘I’m struggling, I need some support’. I have daily conversations with students where I ask ‘so, have you asked your teacher about that?’ and the answer is ‘no’.
It is hard to see what good can come from burying your head in the sand…
Number 21: Don’t assume your teachers will be angry if you ask for help with something.