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Looking Forward

By Noeilne Young, Deputy Principal

Working in a girls’ school is something that feels very familiar and comfortable as I have been an educator in an all girls’ school in New Zealand for more than ten years. It is no wonder that Branksome Hall Asia was an instant attraction for me, particularly as my two daughters also attended an all girls’ school. I therefore fully understood the advantages for young women stepping into a world of work that remains gender biased. Add in an Asian perspective and breaking the glass ceiling becomes an even bigger challenge. 

Now more than ever, an IB education is needed to give our students an added competitive edge. Graduates of academics abound, however, what makes one stand out from the pile of resumes? The IB mission aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. The Learner Profile is made up of attributes that represent a broad range of human capacities and responsibilities that go beyond intellectual development and academic success.

The part of the IB mission statement that resonates most with me is, ‘students understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.’ As an educator this may be the most challenging objective to achieve. How do we get the leaders of tomorrow to buy into this way of thinking? Emotional literacy, now more than ever, is essential in a world reliant on technology.  Social media is now a ‘norm’ of communication and this mode of communication can feature detachment from human dialogue and remove us from the practice of having those difficult conversations that insist that we listen to others and hear different perspectives. 

In today’s world there are many leaders, but what characteristics do our students need to become highly effective leaders? A study by Daniel Goleman shows a strong relationship between superior performing leaders and emotional competence, supporting this theorist's suggestions that the social, emotional, and relational competency set commonly referred to as Emotional Intelligence, is a distinguishing factor in leadership performance. 

"At best IQ contributes about 20% to the factors that determine life success, which leaves 80% to other forces…” (Goleman, 1998)

Research has shown that Emotional Intelligence, like technical skill, can be developed through a systematic and consistent approach to building competence in personal and social awareness, self-management, and social skill. However, unlike technical skills the pathways in the brain associated with social and emotional competencies are different than those engaged by more cognitive learning. Because the foundations of social and emotional competencies are often laid down early in life and reinforced over several years they tend to become synonymous with our self-image and thus need focused attention over time to bring about change (Cherniss, Goleman, Emmerling, Cowan, & Adler, 1998).

Now more than ever, Branksome Hall Asia has an important role to play in the social emotional development of our students, beginning from JKPrep. We must provide our students experiences to develop competencies such as emotional self-awareness, confidence, understanding of others, communication, adaptability and social responsibility. The heart and mind work in unison, one is less strong without the other. Programs such as Restorative Practices, are a good beginning. I know that Branksome Hall Asia will continue to adopt programs that strongly position our students for authentic leadership.  As a school we will then be able to move even closer to meeting our mission to shape a better world.