New Beginnings

Disruptive education roundtable

As much as we may want to believe that we can plan and map out our lives and that things like goal setting put us in control of our own destiny, fate can often have other plans for us. personally, i don’t believe that means we should stop making plans, having a future focus or taking actions towards our determined purpose. I think the more we do that, the greater our ability to refocus, adapt and strike out on a new path when fate does intervene.

The personal events in my life in early 2018 impacted every aspect of my life in every way possible. Professionally, it meant a period away from work. International Schools Partnership (ISP) had only just completed the acquisition of Tenby Schools around 6 weeks before and we should have been fully immersed in integration at that time. When it was time for me to re-engage I had undertaken a new role for ISP focusing on business development.  This wasn’t necessarily a route i would have automatically pursued, but actually gave me a lot of interesting learning which will be invaluable in the future. However, it wasn’t necessarily a career route that i would naturally have chosen. However, one thing it did give me was space and time, along with the inputs and guidance of a London based outplacement consultant to really get some clarity of thought on what i want to do. I hope that I still have 15-20 years to contribute professionally to the world!

What has been clear to me throughout the process has been that i remain as passionate, committed and dedicated as I ever was to bringing about change and reform in education that more closely aligns the learning experiences of young people with their needs to flourish, excel and fulfil their potential in a world that changes ever more rapidly. In order for that to happen for young people requires that schools become better places to work where the creative talents of teachers can be honed and released. This, in turn requires major upgrade in the support and development for those who take up leadership roles and positions in education.

I’ve concluded that i cannot make the impact I want or challenge entrenched orthodoxy as much as i might wish whilst employed by any single school or schooling organisation. So, whilst still potentially open to business development opportunities for ISP, I am setting out on the road less traveled as an independent education consultant, coach, trainer, writer and with the freedom to take up projects alone or in collaboration with others that excite me and where i believe real impact can be achieved.

I cannot thank enough ISP, my former colleagues and team at Tenby (especially the Principals and the Central Office team) and particularly Charles Robinson, ISP Group Business Development Director for their support and help in what were, at times, challenging and dark months.

Reinventing yourself professionally is an amazing experience. One part fear, one part excitement it challenged me to question so much about myself. There are those who say it’s wrong for people to define and identify themselves so greatly with who they are professionally. However, it’s something i always knew and accepted about myself – I am what i do and I will always assess myself on the basis of the extent to which i believe I’m making a difference in education.

In the last few weeks I’ve attended events that reinforced imy beliefs that this is right for me now. One of them I’ll be writing about in a separate post. Yesterday, I attended a Roundtable meeting in Kuala Lumpur entitled “Disruptive Education.” 50 or so people from all sorts of areas associated with education, both public and private sector. A few present wanted to challenge the use of the word “disruptive” as being overly negative. It’s understandable that many will want to believe that all we need to do is a bit of evolutionary change, incremental tweaking around the edges. However, I’m even more convinced than ever that we need significant change and we have to rapidly increase the pace at which we bring those changes.

I’ve decided to keep my base in Kuala Lumpur. Over three years here I’ve come to love the place and the people. It’s also got all the strategic accessibility of Singapore with a fraction of the cost of living! I did consider a move back to India, but sad to tell all my Indian friends that with the history of my lungs a permanent move there just would never have worked. The air quality was bad when I left 6 years ago, but it’s way worse now. However, from here I believe I can work across a large swathe of Asia, and that will undoubtedly include India.

In terms of exactly what I’ll be offering, that will emerge over the next few weeks and I will be writing more with some of my plans. However, in the meantime, I am very much available to anyone who wants to reach out for discussions. There are already some interesting and very exciting ideas under discussion. I know life won’t be getting boring any time soon.

For anyone who does want to reach out to me to discuss projects or ideas, please, for now, do so on my personal email address: markp.india@gmail.com

 

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