On the heels of the Sir Ken talk in Oahu, a key meeting with the Hawaii Community Foundation and now with almost two months of the 2010-11 academic year behind us, I have a growing sense of the strengths and growth opportunities facing Kauai Pacific School. Our strengths are in our people…charitable givers, a directed board, our strong faculty, and the daily energy that comes from our students and families.
While in Oahu we were led to the very leader of the revolution in schools, Sir Ken Robinson…if you haven’t already, please Google “Sir Ken Ted Talk.” It was satisfying to be in the right place at the right time with the full faculty, and a collection of board members, parents and students to hear Sir Ken’s epic message. Sir Ken made us laugh and reminded us that creativity is the defining feature of humanity. His message was that as humans are born to create things, we have throughout time looked to the horizon of time and actively shaped our future. He pointed out the that currant dominant educational approach was created during the industrial revolution as a factory model designed to standardize and that the crisis is being compounded by a digital world experiencing exponential population growth. His understanding is that the factory model approach to education stifles creativity and authentic learning and should be replaced by a new educational model.
When a student asked him how he would go about designing the perfect future school, Ken remarked, “…the essential feature of anything lies in its elegance. The empty space in a painting, the pause in a poem, the relationship between an actor and the audience…in schools it is the ability of a student to learn what they love through a process of co-creating and anything that distracts from this should be left out of an ideal future school…”
I find the Kauai Pacific School faculty to be cohesive, flexible, and smart. They have a good sense of humor and are fluent in the implementation of the inquiry methodology. The love Kaua’i Pacific School and are willing to go the extra mile to see it thrive. The faculty have the important the ability to articulate gracefully constructive critique, a key part of the learning process. Our academic programs rest solidly upon the faculty’s ability to integrate conceptual and thematic inquiry-based teaching. Fortunately, they exhibit patience with a new leadership style.
Our board is focused, committed and small. I see the energy that daily spills out into the school grounds in direct relationship to the focus of our board of trustees on growing the school programs. The commitment of this group is remarkable and like the school it will grow significantly over the next several years. I see a growth opportunity in growth of this board in numbers, the capacity to fundraise, and in further demonstrated partnership with the HAIS through governance development.
The future of Kauai Pacific School is as a bright beacon for how schools can be. In fact, the University of Hawaii and the Hawaii Association of independent Schools consider Kauai Pacific School to be a model prototype for school reform in Hawaii. Our faculty will soon skype with graduate students from the UH Schools of Architecture and Futurist Studies to discuss future school design. Their analysis will include recommendations for creating a sustainable school and what that might look like on the North Shore of Kauai by the year 2030. I have been humbled and awed by the quality work of the graduate students…it is a testament to their teachers, Jim Dator and Ray Yeh, and I look forward to the interaction of our faculty in this project. Professor Dator told us that he had selected Kauai Pacific School for this project because of our balance between sustainability and digital literacy. When discussing our themed inquiry methodology he commented, “I like your interdisciplinary, interactive, and intercultural approach.”
The great energy that comes to Kauai Pacific School comes everyday in the form of students. Being raised in such natural aesthetic as this spectacular place, these minds are truly full of wonder and awe. Daily I am struck by their creativity and excitement for learning about their world. Thanks to our parents, grandparents and friends for your intentionality and investment in the future through Kauai Pacific School.
Aloha y Mahalo, Richard