Head’s Blog

This term I have had three occasions to practise “Panda Diplomacy”, though not the one China engaged in for decades. As you can see in the photo below, I have been carrying bags of a very particular type of candy around the world as I travelled to three different UWC schools and colleges (UWC Atlantic in March, then UWC South East Asia and UWC Thailand in April). Pre-COVID I also took some to UWC Pearson College in Canada.

I am experimenting with a rotation in my reading habits, reading fiction, then research on education (in the widest sense covering both teaching, learning and caring, the last one being Understanding How We Learn: A Visual Guide) and then a book on something else (I am taking my time reading carefully Kahneman’s Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment). Last night I turned back to one of my intellectual heroes, Umberto Eco. The Italian sage is probably best known for the novel The Name of the Rose, famously adapted in the movie with Sean Connery in the role of William of Baskerville.

Unless you are an aviation professional or a geek, this post’s title may have caused you to raise your eyebrow. As a member of the second category (you may remember my first post comparing the evolution of classrooms and aeroplanes), I learnt this mantra while researching for the Flight Simulator Club I set up in my previous school.

As we start the second week of the term, it is time to look back and reflect on how “Operation Return to Campus” went. Leaving aside the logistics of having students and staff travel all over the world, keeping our community as protected as possible was the priority of our plan, while also adapting to the new circumstances with the changing coronavirus and being very much aware of the cumulative impact of all the measures implemented so far leading to pandemic-tiredness.

The UWC Heads group has been working on a review of the UWC educational model focusing particularly on the final two pre-university years that we all share - the IB Diploma Programme (DP). A clear pattern is emerging: some things need to change. In some cases, urgently so.