“Fortunate” is definitely the word that best describes my mood today, as I dispense with a full slate of appointments and messages, preparing for my departure on sabbatical tomorrow. When the Board Chair made his announcement last spring that in my fifteenth year at the school I was going to be sent away to refresh myself, restore myself, and pick up a few ideas about education from other parts of the world, I definitely felt fortunate. Many people at many schools – most assuredly our own – serve long and effectively, and I view it as a sign of strength in our school that the Board can send me off like this. So thank you to the Board, and to all those who have helped this fifteen-year run arrive at this particular point, with so much distance left to go, clearly. I will return fresh and full of ideas, and no doubt some of my colleagues will scurry in the opposite direction when they see me coming.
During this time away Joan and I will be visiting countries we have never visited before – Spain, Morocco, Turkey, Jordan, India, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos – and we will be visiting schools in these countries. Some schools will be very prominent, and some will be very humble. I am fascinated by how kids like to learn, whether their school is well-supplied or meagre. I remember hearing Stephen Lewis speak when he was the UN Ambassador on AIDS, saying that during a visit to northern Uganda where civil war had raged for years, the single most urgent wish among the children was to go to school. The impulse to learn, to form relationships that will shape and define your life, is a powerful one even to those very young children who would not be able to articulate it thus. So I am fascinated by this, and by how the main purpose of education plays out, this main purpose being to teach students to pursue truth. How does the pursuit of truth operate in different cultures – especially in cultures where the education seems narrow and rigid? Because I do happen to believe that even in those apparently narrow and rigid cultures or school systems this inclination to pursue truth is inherent in young people and in education. As I tell students here – you don’t need to harbour fears about truth being damaged, or crippled or threatened. Such setbacks are only temporary. Truth is powerful, and will persist much longer than any of us.
While I am away, I will continue weekly posts on this blog, for the curious. And for the exceedingly curious, both Joan and I will be keeping separate “travel” blogs to which we will make more frequent posts. There will be links to these blogs on this page. We will feel that much better for keeping in touch.
A la prochaine.