Published: 11th July 2018
Why schools like KC High are here to educate and build global citizens of tomorrow
Kid's Central, a popular school in Chennai, has recently opened its branch in Navalur. We get talking to the Head of school, on how schools like KC High are raising a generation of global citizens
At a time when the world is our backyard, what should our children play with to learn better?
Schools like KC High may not have all the right answers, but they sure do know that in a world which is growing smaller each day, our younger ones need the power of conversation and exposure to make them citizens of a global system, without dismissing their own individual uniqueness.
What started as a small after-school programme nearly 18 years ago by Valli Subbiah, Kid’s Central — today popularly known as KC High — came into being on the basis of the principles of Howard Gardner’s concept of multiple intelligences. The theory being that teaching has to cater to children with different intelligences — while concentrating on peer learning and celebrating diversity. Ranked among the best schools in Chennai, KC High which is in Kotturpuram, has now also been expanded to Navalur, off OMR.
One visit to KC High’s new campus, one easily knows that the spearheaders of the school have a strong grasp of their vision — to help children ‘care, collaborate, catalyse and create’, as their motto stands. The sprawling lawns and well-equipped classrooms; the informal set up and breezy surroundings — the school is no less than a community of vivacious, smart, respectful and skilled learners and teachers.
“At KC High, we truly believe that the nurturing of the mind begins at the youngest age,” says Michael Purcell, Head of school, who graciously walks me around the spacious campus. “I believe that communication and learning, begins right at the womb, depending on care and concern provided to the infant. And even after, when a child comes to schools, it really does become the teachers’ responsibility to provide that surrounding of care, so children are not afraid of taking risks,” he says. Michael believes that play, along with conversation, is a vital part of the neural development in children of all ages. “Play, and the ability to express, is what gives children the chance to learn to their fullest potential,” he explains.
The IGCSE Cambridge Curriculum, along with the International Baccalaureate Diploma courses offered at KC High, promises to make students competent and socially relevant, via their education.
School's cool: Students at KC High in an informal setting at the new campus, being addressed by Head of school, Michael Purcell
But what makes a school like KC High help students become ‘future ready’ and equipped for a time, where even the everyday local dances in flavours of the global? “We really do believe in making our children look at skill sets, beyond just technicality,” Michael says. “Yes, it is a given that the youth today, more than ever, need to know the theory and the practicality of the techniques which they learn. But beyond that, they also need to be well-balanced humans, who respect themselves and each other - how else will they embrace the global citizenship of the future?” he explains. “The questions we often urge our students to mull over, right from a very young age, is whether what they are studying (or communicating) is responsible? Is it kind? Does it serve a larger purpose? And I do think this is what makes them both aware of what they learn, how they use it, and also gives them the freedom to question better,” he adds.
While the classrooms — from pre-primary to grade 12 — are a mix of students from different cultures, from across the nation and outside of it, KC High certainly doesn’t forget that staying rooted is an equal part of being international. “Whether it be students from within the country, or our NRI students, or those who have come from absolutely different countries and lifestyles, we are always aware that we need to keep in touch with our own Indian culture as well,” Michael, an IGCSE professional himself from the US, says. And it is true — the school walls are dotted with hand drawn pictures of the regular Indian life and the architecture of the space, what with its earthiness going in tandem with the modern classrooms, spells a peaceful amalgam of balance.
Peer learning and interaction makes a big part of KC High’s system of education, and so does the space for teacher-student conversation. “We try to keep our teacher to student ratio at 1:6, and probably stretch it to a maximum of 1:9 — anything that disturbs this ratio, will certainly disturb the level of comfort a students shares with their teacher,” Michael informs me.
“We are trying to raise well-rounded and responsible individuals, so we are quite conscious here at KC High, that we constantly find a way of slowing down as well,” Michael continues. The institution, apart from PT classes, encourages children to be in touch with the nature, and even has regular yoga classes pinned to their time tables. “We try to teach our children to certainly express, but also understand the importance of stepping back and slowing down,” he says. The faculty may also have a butterfly garden soon on the campus, to have more children engage in the activity.
But it’s not the board or the architecture which holds fort at the end of the day, Michael believes. “These are, yes, definitely bonus points to our vision, but really it is the teacher which makes education fun - it is them, who can get a child to want to come back to learn the next day,” he tells me. “The best of teachers, make the best of students - and more often than not, this is what we have learnt in our journey at KC High, and what we have stuck by. And I do think that that belief has made all the difference here,” he adds.