Monday, June 1, 2015

The Numbers and the Heart: 2014-15 Wind Down

Those fortunate enough to be at graduation last week will have listened to the excellent graduation speech by Michael Ortiz, a HS math teacher (who will serve as IB Coordinator next year), who focused on the "hidden curriculum" of what really matters in growing and learning. His point, regarding how much that matters is not often documented is an ever-present one. Like most things both education and life can only be 'defined' in part with numbers and data and the like. Much of it, though, lies in less-definable elements such as the heart, disposition, growth, where evidence can be much different. So too, is the case with ISKL's sustainability and service culture. 

The numbers will say this:

Change from 13-14 (Total Amounts)
Water (m3) *
+ 0.5%
(12,519 m3)
(11,763 m3)
(24,282 m3)
Electricity (kWh) *
+ 3.9 %
(2,158,352 kWh)
- 8.0 %
(984,657 kWh)
Paper (# of copies/prints) *
Carbon emissions from ISKL flights (tonnes of CO2)
- 16.0%
(1200 tonnes)
Recycling (kg)
(11,027 kg)
Composting (kg - estimated)
(17,045 kg)

They will say that, overall, ISKL has done a reasonably good job in moving toward being a more sustainable school. They will say that Melawati fared better than Ampang in that regard. They will also tell us that we recycled more, we composted more, we used less water (and fixed some leeks). But they won't talk about the heart, the disposition or the growth of our students. 

For that one needs to speak to children and ask them what they've learned. One has to see what they've accomplished. To recognize that during the course of the past two years over 100 service related initiatives have been taken on. Students have assisted with relief efforts in disaster affected areas and/or difficult political circumstances. In the process our students have learned about the challenges of being change makers. They have worked with communities in numerous less-developed areas and, in doing so, recognized how much "stuff" they have in comparison to others, but also that material things matter less in different circumstances that they might have originally thought. They have provided support in building homes for those who cannot build their own and recognized what is truly important in shelter, family and community. They have assisted with refugees and learned that the world is not always easy for people who have done no wrong. They have worked on bringing back the environment and realized how difficult it is to do so when monetary priorities imply that nature is less beneficial to an economy and, by extension, to a society. And yet, despite these seemingly massive obstacles, they still work and plant and teach and build. 

These are the "unwritten" learnings that our environmental indicator data cannot reveal and are hard to gauge. But they are there and they are necessary. For if we want out children to grow and be empowered to make the world a better place, to be the global citizens we want them to be, then all these things - the data and the learning - are important to set the course to a more sustainable present, and future. 

What a wonderful year it's been!  Our children are one year older, and wiser still. They are more capable of making change and, as the Melawati Way puts it, ".. taking care of each other and taking care of this place". Have an enjoyable summer, everyone!

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