Jeff Paulson on...
In a changing world, we need to focus on the things that matter to our students' futures - flexibility and resilience.
Pride and awe. As we reach the end of another school year, those are the two overriding emotions I have when I look at just how far our students have developed over the past two semesters. Their growth is testament to the fabulous team we have here, of course, but what pleases me most is that we all strive for much more than simply filling heads with facts and figures. We go beyond teaching; we are preparing the next generation for the changing world that awaits them.
Employability is a key component of the ZIS curriculum. In today’s fast-changing world, we simply can’t predict the ways in which the workplace will be transformed over the coming years. But we can furnish our children with skills that will prepare them for life outside school and university, and give them the best chance of thriving in their careers.
Whatever path they choose, our students will need the flexibility and resilience to deal with change. They will need to be able to collaborate effectively and present their ideas to a group with clarity and confidence, whether as leaders or followers. And they must be creative thinkers, able to research problems quickly and come up with innovative solutions.
All our students are given the opportunity to develop these vital employability skills by engaging with the wider world. Last year, for example, the Lower School Student Council travelled to the Federal Palace in Bern to find out about the structures and processes of Swiss democracy, and see the nation’s lawmakers in action.
The Global Issues exhibition sees groups from Grade 8 tackle topics with real-world significance: last year’s subjects ranged from ‘body image’ to ‘nuclear energy’. It is not just an exercise in research, collaboration and critical thinking. When the groups display their final projects, they must be prepared to field questions from parents, teachers and other students. It’s an excellent way of building up valuable presentation experience.
As students progress through the Upper School, ZIS can tap into its network of alumni and friends to help them develop their career aspirations. Each December, more than 100 senior professionals present at the Upper School Career Forum. After choosing the industries that interest them, Grade 10 students can sign up for small group sessions involving presentations and group discussions. It’s an excellent opportunity for them to ask detailed questions and get expert advice, informing the choices they will soon have to make when they fill out their university applications.
None of this would be possible without the support of the wider ZIS community. Internships rely on the goodwill of the many organisations who take our Grade 11 students each year and, after graduation, ZISMeets events make more important connections. We owe the large number of parents, alumni and other individuals who volunteer their time and expertise our gratitude; it’s an active network that comes with many benefits.
Through all these initiatives, we are ensuring that ZIS is a place that fosters professional success as well as academic achievement – and that however profound the changes in working culture, our students will always stand out as rounded individuals, ready and eager to make an impact.