Sir John Jones visits FIS

On Monday 6th November we were delighted to welcome into the school the renowned educationalist and international speaker, Sir John Jones.

Sir John was knighted for his services to education in 2003. He has been a head teacher in three secondary schools in the UK and has advised the UK government at various times across a range of issues. So it was a real pleasure to listen to his thoughts on education.

He spoke to Years 10-13, then to the International Stream staff and also some French Stream teachers, then in the evening he addressed an audience of parents from both streams.

He had several key messages. He identified that several different sources like the World Economic Forum and Thomas Friedman had identified 5 key attributes for success as we move towards the middle of the 21st century. These were

  • creativity,
  • ingenuity,
  • agility,
  • adaptability and
  • sociability.

He challenged schools to devise experiences for students that were comprised of curricula which were ‘an inch wide and a mile deep,’ instead of curricula that are currently ‘a mile wide and an inch thick.’ In order to do that he spoke of 4 key non-negotiables for students and teachers alike

1) aim high 2) work hard 3) be kind and 4) no excuses.

He confirmed that we should be aiming high for all students to achieve their potential and took us through the psychology of Carol Dweck and Angela Duckworth who advocate having a positive and open mindset as well as displaying grit and resilience.

He used many examples from sport and different walks of life to exemplify his ideas. He said that certain common characteristics are found in successful people. They develop great habits, they practice abstinence for a long term goal, they are aware of their own strengths and limitations, and they exhibit commitment, effort, resilience and often no amount of tears as they struggle, but persevere. Sir John then explained that are several things which hold us back from committing fully to whatever we set our minds to. History holds us back-the mantra that ‘we have always done it like that’ is no longer good enough. There has to be a better way. Our habits are restrictive when it comes to promoting growth and change-some people tend to prefer their own comfort zones and are keen to remain there. The final ‘h’ which holds us back is hesitation. The refusal to make that leap of faith. Research shows that 80% of us tend to hesitate and then stay put where we are. He extolled us to leap that gorge.

Sir John finished with an uplifting message that with support and unconditional positive regard that truly amazing things are possible. Sir John interwove humorous stories and anecdotes and has us all laughing and crying in almost equal measure! A truly inspirational talk. If you were there I hope you enjoyed it, if you weren’t, where were you? You missed a real treat!