To the Parents:
Lic. Priscilla Garrido
Here we are at the beginning of another school year of new adventures and challenges. As we start the second decade of this 21st Century, it becomes ever more obvious that schooling in this century is definitely not the same as it was in the 20th Century when we all attended school and even completed our university studies. All our sons and daughters are paying more attention to their I-phones and Blackberry than to real people; they prefer texting and twittering to face to face conversations and for too many of them playing means a video game.
We often have no idea how to communicate with our own children. However, in spite of all their technology and gadgets, they are still our offspring and respond to love and attention the same way we did at their age. Our role as parents, tutors, or grandparents is to be very present in their lives as our parents were in ours. Ask them questions and really listen to the answers, give them lots of hugs even if they seem to reject affection, get to know their friends and what they do and where they go. We don’t need permission to be their parents and guardians against the dangers we understand better than they do, even though they think they have all the answers. Parenting is a 24/7 job 365 days a year which we should try to enjoy as much as possible. It is hard work but ultimately a very rewarding job.
New Horizons of course is also not the same as last century. Classes may be sent to students on Moddle rather than copied in a notebook, teachers communicate with parents via E-Bulletins, and some textbooks only exist digitally. The overwhelming volume of information available means that we don’t need to memorize facts but rather discuss what all the information means and how we can use it. Textbooks are a one-way uniform transmission of knowledge. Digital learning means constructing knowledge from multiple sources. To quote Carl Rogers from “On Being a Person” – “Anything that can be taught to another person is relatively inconsequential and has little or no significant influence on behavior. The only learning which significantly influences behavior is self-directed self-appropriated learning”. That means students are responsible for learning. As parents and teachers, we are just there to support their efforts, but they do need our constant and ever-present support. Let’s make sure we are there for all of them.
To the Students:
All of the members of the New Horizons Family extend a warm welcome to each one of you as we initiate a new fun-filled year of learning together. This school year will be filled with new friends, new ideas, new challenges, and new opportunities to succeed and to fail for we frequently learn more when things don’t work than when they do. Benjamin Franklin was an expert at this. When asked why he didn’t give up on trying an experiment for the hundredth time, Ben replied that now he knew 99 ways it didn’t work.
Our poor environment has suffered more that 99 wrong ways to do things. Obviously we cannot continue to abuse our planet without making it completely uninhabitable. Even in the year 1967, Stewart Udall, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, said that “Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man”. The tragedy of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has shown us the dirtiest side of fossil fuels. Changing our habits of buying and traveling is not something that can be done some time in the future. We have to take action now or there will be no future. Last year we improved our efforts to recycle plastic and paper, were more economical in our use of water and electricity, and began to reduce noise pollution, but we have to contribute so much more to the efforts to stop the destruction of the world we inhabit. New Horizons has to be the leader in our community efforts to SAVE OUR PLANET!!
During the previous school year, all our efforts were dedicated to learning about the people and places of our world as we presented plays, wrote poetry, sang, and danced to the music of many countries, tried some delicious new foods, and practiced some words in Chinese, Farsi, or French. Our Cultural Festival was an enjoyable experience which we shared with our families and friends, while deepening our understanding of our multi-cultural world.
This year we shall continue to enjoy cultural activities, but our main focus will be on the world of Natural Sciences and uses of technology as we celebrate our biannual Science and Technology Fair. There will be some new methods of investigation based on problem-solving and, of course, the problems to be solved will be oriented towards contributing to improving the conditions of our Planet Earth.
Technology is present in all areas of our life now. Our task is to learn to use it without being dominated by technological devices. Friends and family are very important and we must dedicate time and efforts to maintaining friendships and good relations with all the members of our families. That means face time and real communication, not a text message. A warm hug is more important than all your contacts on Face book.
Last year many of you studied the Seven Wonders of the World – like the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal. As impressive as these monuments are, there are other “Wonders” that are much more important – the ability to see, to hear, to touch, to feel, to taste, to laugh, and to love. These are the true wonders of our world and we must be thankful for these abilities to really experience the best things in life – especially the opportunity to love and be loved. The British writer, Storm Jameson, said it quite well; “Happiness comes of the capacity to feel deeply, to enjoy simply, to think freely, to risk life, to be needed”.
I wish you all a year full of much happiness!!