Mark has a BA in Sociology and Labour Studies from York University, a PGCE from Sunderland University, and an MEd in Curriculum Studies and Teacher Development from the University of Toronto. He has garnered 15 years of teaching and administrative experience in China, South Korea and Thailand.
In his last stint before moving to OWIS Suntec, he was the Head of Primary and Early Years at an international school in Bangkok.
Mark believes that the way forward in education is to ensure that the learning approach is student-centred, engaging and experiential, including the use of technology. He likes to create a learning environment where all students can flourish and, thereby, attain their full potential.
It's often said that children are naturally resilient, but today's generation of young people has faced unprecedented challenges. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, children of all ages were forced to abandon the structure and security of their routines in favour of virtual learning at home. They were not able to socialise with their peers or interact with their teachers in person. When they did meet face-to-face again, they had to wear a mask and try to communicate in an entirely new way.
In light of these tumultuous times, it's more important than ever for schools to help build resilience in young students. It is something we give importance to at One World International School. Socio-emotional learning and 21st-century skill development can help children learn that challenging times are nothing to be afraid of — but instead, these moments are often learning opportunities that will help them become better versions of themselves.
Why is Resilience Important for Children?
Resilience is a critical skill to teach children because they will need to rely on it for the rest of their lives. According to Raising Children, an Australian parenting website, teaching a child to be resilient helps them learn how to bounce back from a challenging moment and allows them to continue living their lives in a fulfilling and meaningful way.
Building resilience in students is also important because:
It empowers children. It helps them understand that they can overcome any setbacks they may face and that these setbacks often teach them essential life lessons that they can carry with them. Resilient children are often confident students who are not afraid to do hard things.
It encourages students to keep trying. Resilient children are often considered to be good problem solvers because they do not view unexpected issues as defeat — rather, they see them as opportunities. Resilient children are more willing to keep trying new things until they come to the best solution.
It allows children to understand their emotions better. Building resiliency helps them identify those unwanted feelings of anxiety, fear or frustration, and it will let them know that those feelings are often fleeting. They have a toolkit for dealing with those emotions, and they are aware of the fact that those feelings will subside with time.
It gives children the tools they need to address their problems effectively. When a child has been taught to be resilient, they will be less likely to avoid an issue, such as a conflict or a frustrating circumstance. Rather than resorting to aggression or isolation when something traumatic occurs, resilient children will know who they can go to and what they need to do to manage their problem appropriately and effectively.
How OWIS Suntec Builds Resilience in Children
Building resilience in students has long been a priority at our international school in Singapore. We are keeping up the effort at our new campus, OWIS Suntec, to help all of our students become resilient. Here is how we do it:
Respect for diversity, understanding one’s own identity and accepting others are core values at OWIS Suntec. Our teachers help learners to shape a positive self-image of themselves through engaging activities.
We encourage our students to take risks — in a healthy way. If a risk results in an outcome different from what was expected, our teachers use them as learning moments. We have a play-based curriculum for our youngest learners, in which they are given the freedom to explore their classrooms and learn in a way that feels right to them. Our older Primary students enjoy an inquiry-led curriculum in which they drive the learning experience by asking questions and participating in open discussions with their teachers. Every child is respected, and no question is considered silly or wrong.
Our teachers do not immediately step in and solve every problem that our students face. Rather than fixing it for them, our teachers and instructors ask the students questions about how they could address their current situation. Further, we actively teach problem-solving skills.
We help our students identify and label their emotions. When young children can put a name to the feeling they are experiencing, they can more easily come up with ways to cope with those emotions.
We encourage students to practice mindfulness and be aware of the coping mechanisms that work best for them. Our teachers demonstrate these coping skills in an age-appropriate manner to our students.
We inculcate a growth mindset in our learners vis-a-vis having a fixed mindset. Our learners understand the “power of yet” - that while they may not be able to do something the first time they attempt it, with practice, they will improve and reach their goals.
We teach our students to look on the bright side. We do this by providing anecdotal examples of leaders and entrepreneurs who are very successful because they persevered throughout their lifetime.
Resilience is just one of the many 21st century skills that we teach at OWIS Suntec. For more information about our inquiry-led curriculum and our child-driven learning environment, please join the virtual open house today.