Secondary Newsletter – March 18th

by Admin on March 17, 2013

The Power of Our Words
We are in a review cycle for various policies and philosophy statements, including our Language Policy.  At this time I am also in the midst of teaching a few periods of Theory of Knowledge (ToK).  Like many of our DP students, my perspective shifts toward the deeper meanings of life (including our work at IICS) when I find myself engaged in ToK – how do we know? what is truth? Is truth subjective? What is right? What does ‘being right’ mean? What’s the point?  Uncertainty can be crippling if we’re not careful.

When we develop and revise policies, we wordsmith and select the ‘right’ word for what we ‘mean’; try to agree on the best descriptors for how we feel and what we know; we wrestle with the level of detail which should go into a document in order to balance the practical and comprehensive, the clarity and flexibility in the uncertain organic world of school and education. The challenge is to clear, meaningful policies and statements without crippling our ability to grow, improve, and be responsive to our students and community.

The confluence of the policy writing, my ToK work and ongoing professional discussions about language development and acquisition have led me to some entertaining stories, and compelling research which I would like to share. I hope this provides you with a view into the kinds of professional, educational, and philosophical discussions our community enter into when tackling big ideas like ‘language development’ or ‘thinking skills’.

Some of these have been referred to, shared or cited in previous workshops, professional development, and class lessons and presentations.  Your sons and daughters may know some of these already. Enjoy and I look forward to discussing these and other ideas and issues – big and small – in the near future!

This Radiolab podcast has three parts which explore the nature of language and its ties to our ability to think, reason, understand and bring meaning to the world around us.  I found the the grown man without language, ‘left of the blue wall’ experiment, and language development at the school for the deaf in Nicaragua particularly compelling.

In this excerpt from another Radiolab podcast, Mr. Bliss (real name) invents a universal language. In his attempt to solve the challenges of communication, others find the universal language creates it’s own set of problems.  I found this piece fascinating given our multilingual community with all its benefits and challenges.

In this Tedx Talk, Phuc Tran shares his views on grammar differences in English and his native Vietnamese and how it has shaped his view of the world and relationship with his father.

Keith Chen shares his findings on use of the future tense, how different cultures forecast weather, and save money for the future.

Carol Dweck is a leading educator whose main focus is on growth in student achievement and Mindsets of learners and educators when approaching challenges, failure and a knowledge gaps. This short video highlights the findings of one of her most important (in my opinion) studies in student achievement and motivation.


This is a fun and interesting look at animal language.  The last anecdote (beginning at the 13:35 mark) sent chills down my spine.

Language shapes most, if not all, we do here in schools. The above links are a small window into some of the inspiration, challenges and opportunities in our work.

- Chris Andre          
Secondary Principal  

Upcoming Dates:
14-17    CEESA Educational Conference: Prague
15    Nagoya University Visit
19    Graduation Portraits for Grade 12
20    Personal Project Exhibition, Grade 10, 13:00-15:00, Marmara Campus
21    PTA Coffee Morning; Brooklyn Castle 10-12:00, Toscana – Kari Fike
21    US University visits (multiple schools) 8:30-10:30, Marmara Campus
23-24    IEFT University Fair, Hilton Hotel – Harbiye
25     UK University visits (multiple schools), 8:30-10:30, Marmara Campus
26    University of South Australia visit
27    Personal Project Deadline
1-5    MAP Testing Grades 7-10

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