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From the editor

| November 12, 2012 | 0 Comments

On our letters page, Madeleen Welman, marketing head at Herschel Girls’ School, Cape Town, observes the “wide-ranging information” in Independent Education that encompasses both “small, hidden-away schools and international trends”.

A total of 98 ISASA members appeared in the 2012 autumn, winter and spring editions of the magazine, celebrating milestones and achievements, commenting on topical education issues, featuring as either new or established members of the association and sharing their leadership, technology, early childhood development, special education needs and ‘green’ experiences. The schools are as diverse as their stories: some are small, low-fee treasures in rural areas; others are large, well-known urban institutions. In many cases it is their ethos – oftentimes rooted in a particular faith or educational philosophy – that makes for fascinating reading.

Our growing readership is also increasingly diverse, with far-reaching interests and throughout the year we received an overwhelmingly positive response to articles by writers affiliated to universities, ‘think tanks’ and organisations like the Midrand Group, TEACH South Africa, the Mapungubwe Institute and the Citizen Movement for Social Change. All weighed in on key debates about education transformation and renewal in our country, alongside teachers and leaders who shared with us the extraordinary things they are achieving in public schools and through civil society initiatives.

We take the view that Independent Education is also an open forum for the exchange of information and ideas about education and institutions around the world. This year we have transported our readers from Finland to Sierra Leone and everywhere in between, and have strengthened our ties with other independent school associations in Washington DC, USA; Queensland, Australia and Canada.

Our summer 2012 issue continues all of these popular trends. David Harrison, from the DG Murray Trust, writes for us about Pratham, a non-profit organisation in India that teaches up to 150 000 young children to read in six weeks and Deborah James, executive director of Independent Schools of New Zealand, explains how that organisation works to challenge the myth that independent schools are the sole domain of the wealthy and privileged. In Swaziland, ISASA member Usutu Forest Primary School makes the pleasant discovery that its beautiful surroundings play an important role in its curriculum and Dr Sandy Gluckman addresses the very real problem of teacher and student stress. “A healthy teacher equals a healthy student, which in turn equals a positive learning experience”, she surmises in our interview, in which she details the fascinating advances made in the fields of neuroplasticity and neurogenesis.

If you’re saving that article for after examinations when you’ve more time on your hands, our recommended ‘quick reads right now’ are ‘Education around the world’ (page 12), ‘Green Globe’ (page 36) and ‘E-bytes’ (page 49). These short stories will take you from Russia, through East Jerusalem and Kenya, from Finland to the island of Dominica, stopping briefly in Rio de Janeiro, West Yorkshire, Scotland, Ethiopia, Northern Ireland, Côte d’Ivoire, China, Benin and the United States along the way.

Once the final school bell heralds the start of the summer holidays, you can get stuck into our articles written by South Africans and rooted in a local context to expand your horizons. Highlights include ‘snippets’ from seven ISASA schools, and an introduction to new member Mokopane English Combined School, whose principal, Adriaan Lubbe, observes that “Independence means working very hard and continuously comparing your standards with those of other schools to ensure that you are as good as you claim to be.” Shree Bharat Sharda Mandir School in Lenasia, Johannesburg, introduces us to the beautiful Hindu Havan ceremony to bless the matric class; in KwaZulu-Natal, the Principals Management Development Programme equates whole school success with the capability of the leader; and technology teachers from the US debate the merits of the ‘flipped’ classroom and BYOD (bring your own device) – concepts that could be significant for South African schools.

As you’re lazing in your hammock, we also urge you to enjoy our rich review section. Rosemary Smith’s memoir, Swimming with Cobras should be on every teacher’s shelf; Knowledge Thirst Media brings you the comic book reinvented; Kagiso Lesego Molope tackles a dark secret; and Maramedia Publishing must surely take first prize for re-envisioning the school textbook. The cherry on top of our summer cake is, of course, Bruce Pinnock’s pithy take on parent/teacher evenings.

We look forward to bringing you, in 2013, more of what a letter writer describes as “a mixture between practical ideas and thoughtful reflections [that] make the magazine a wonderful tool for any school and every staff member”.

Category: Regular Columns, Summer 2012

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