From the Head
To be a Pilgrim … is to grow, Episode 15
Education is a right for all…
Sunday, 24 January, was the United Nations International Day of Education. Here at The Pilgrims’ School, every day is a day when we celebrate and strive for the highest standards education but Sunday and, specifically Monday when we marked the UN Day of Education as a whole school, were different. On Monday, we remembered that access to an education is a right for all children in the world in order to develop their personalities, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential. António Guterres, Secretary General of the UN, paid tribute to “the resilience of students, teachers and families in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic”. The pandemic is thought to have exacerbated the attainment gap between less and more affluent children as the former are more likely to be constrained by lack of access to technology, individual tutorship and stable learning environments. But on Monday, the UN Secretary General also reminded us that even before the pandemic a massive 258 million children and teenagers in the world did not have access to education - the majority of whom are girls. António Guterres encouraged all countries and economies to address this issue saying, “Education is the foundation for expanding opportunities, transforming economies, fighting intolerance, protecting our planet and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.” It is not negotiable.
Wednesday 26 January, was Holocaust Memorial Day 2021. We remembered men, women and children systematically killed by the Nazis during World War II – including six million Jews, many Roma, the disabled, gay people and others – as well as victims of later genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Darfur. The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust held a national photography competition, ‘Light up the Darkness’, judged by the photographer and director Rankin, sculptor and Holocaust survivor Maurice Blik, Tulip Siddiq MP, and HMD Trust CEO Olivia Marks-Woldman OBE. The HMD Trust teamed up with Girlguiding, the National Union of Students, the Scouts and the Union of Jewish Students to understand what ‘Light up the darkness’ means to young people today. The winning photos together form a unique digital exhibition which you can see displayed here Light up the Darkness.
The following image was Highly Commended: The Fallen, by Madeeha Raja (14-18 Section).
During another busy and exciting week of learning in Pilgrims’ Virtual School, and building on our discussion the previous week about endeavour, I have been introducing the boys to Professor Carol Dweck’s work on Growth Mindset. Growth Mindset is an incredibly powerful concept in learning and teaching. Professor Dweck and colleagues studied the behaviour of thousands of children. While many of them rebounded from mistakes or losses, others did not recover from the smallest of setbacks and this hampered their future learning significantly.
Professor Dweck and her team found that the children who found it very hard to recover and move on from setbacks, mistakes or losses shared what she called a Fixed Mindset. These children believed that intelligence is fixed. They believed that people are born with a certain intelligence or potential or ability to be ‘good at’ or ‘bad at’ mathematics or art or whatever. This means they feel there is little value in putting in effort or challenging oneself and they tend to give up when challenged or frustrated. As you might imagine, this leads to less good educational outcomes but also, a fixed mindset impacts children’s resilience and self-esteem too. Those with a Fixed Mindset avoid challenges and taking risks, do not like making mistakes and even avoid people who they think are ‘smarter’ than them.
Children with a Growth Mindset believe that intelligence grows with education, effort, practice and challenge. A mistake or set back, as I said last week, is an opportunity to learn or an opportunity to grow. So are challenges. The very act of struggling and being challenged or practising grows their ‘intelligence’. Effort is king! Those with a Growth Mindset seek challenges, new things, and feedback in order to help them improve and are inspired by the success of others.
And finally, as part of Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week (1-7 February) the boys will learn about good mental health in a number of activities next week, including PHSEe, our assemblies, and tutor group sessions. We all look forward to telling you more about that in next week’s To be a Pilgrim.