This is our heart for our children's education in Lombok...
When my son Isaiah was 4 we moved house and he began at a local preschool. We wanted him to make new friends in our new community and this particular preschool was located across the road from the Primary school we planned to send him to. It was a practical location. As a passionate educator I had very high expectations of the sort of learning environment I wanted for my son. A place that offered a variety of interesting and developmental learning activities and resources that were up to standard as well as caring and devoted teachers who were properly trained & experienced. I believed that the early years were a very crucial time in Isaiah's development and he needed to learn many important mental, emotional, social and physical skills that would give him a healthy start in life.
When I took Isaiah to this new preschool I noticed there weren't many educational toys or any developmental activities setup. Some boys were just running around out of control and other children were sitting in the corner playing with dolls. There was leftover food on the tables, the paint on the walls was peeling and there was a bad smell in the air. I thought, 'What on earth is going on here?' I could feel fear rising up in me and Isaiah did not want to stay there but I put on a brave face for him and left him there. Over the weeks I continued to see concerning things in the way the teachers behaved towards the children. They appeared tired and impatient. I thought, 'This is terrible!' So I frantically searched for a different preschool. I did manage to find a place that still didn't meet my expectations but appeared more professional and had a school readiness program.
By this time Isaiah had begun to settle in at the first preschool and told us he had made a friend which was great. The next day Rod asked me, 'So when are we sending Isaiah to the new preschool?' I responded, 'Well now I'm not so sure about moving him. He's made a friend there and seems to have gotten used to it!' Rod replied with some very wise words I'll never forget, 'Jac, you can also get used to PRISON! He can't stay there!'
Don't wait and see!
When it was time for our precious first born to start school we had agreed that we wanted him to go to a public school in our local community. There was a Christian school near our house too where many of our friends sent their kids but we had decided long ago there was NO WAY we would send our kids there because we didn't want them to be in a bubble, cut off from the real world! We wanted our kids to learn to connect with those from different cultures & religions. Through my 10 years of public school teaching Rod & I had developed an organisation that ran positive wellbeing projects such as bully prevention programs & values education. We wanted to help and offer hope to this public school that had declining enrolments and a high staff turnover.
At first, it was great to connect with local Mums and make new friendships in our community and the Principal knew Rod from his previous work with High School welfare programs. Isaiah seemed happy there and had many friends and always looked forward to going to school. He liked his teacher too which was great. Rod ended up becoming the P&C president and ran some successful fundraisers. We spent alot of time in the Principal's office discussing issues in the school and how we could help.
BUT, yep you guessed it, after 2 years of investing much time and trying hard to change mindsets and collaborate on creative solutions with the school leadership, we realized that they did not want to change their attitudes or teaching methods and were simply hanging in there until they retired and got a generous superannuation pay out. The sad thing was that during those 2 years, Isaiah had suffered educationally there, with inconsistent teachers, lazy teaching methods, classroom chaos where Isaiah developed bad behavioral habits as well as poor reading skills. As we wrestled AGAIN with a decision to possibly change schools, we asked ourselves, 'Are our expectations just too high?' 'Maybe we can just WAIT AND SEE if the school will improve when the Principal leaves.' So I estimated when I thought some of the lazy teachers and the Principal might leave and concluded that by the time that would happen Isaiah would be in High School.
There was no way I wanted my son's childhood, a precious, short time where essential brain development and learning habits are formed wasted in an unhealthy environment. So, even to our surprise, we decided to send Isaiah and later Seraya to the Christian School. It was like a breath of fresh air, we felt peace there & genuine care from the teachers and we made new friendships with some incredible families who have since been encouraging and praying for us during our Lombok adventure.
Don't wait and see.
A child's mind is like soft clay, malleable. As parents and educators influence their minds we can easily imprint knowledge, skills and beliefs. As they mature, what they have learnt in childhood becomes permanent and remains with them for the rest of their lives. Yes the brain can continue to change even in adulthood, and I am excited by the research Dr Carol Dweck has developed with the Growth Mindset and the studies of neuroplasticity, where the brain can heal and new pathways can be formed. However, it cannot be denied that the older you get the harder it is to learn new things or change your beliefs.
As we are now working tirelessly to provide Lombok families with an education for a brighter future, we have the opportunity to encourage families not to wait and see if our school will be a success and not wait and see if their current school will become better. If all Lombok families chose to wait and see then Rinjani Indah School wont even get a chance to start!
In a visit to Green School in Bali, the staff wore T.shirts displaying,
'Siapa lagi kalau bukan kita?'
(if not us then who?)
Will you join us? Take a chance & believe in the possibilities that
Rinjani Indah School offers!! Together we can make a great school!
About the author..
Jacqueline is an enthusiastic educator, passionate about inspiring children to believe in themselves & others. A wife, mother, sister, friend, teacher & active learner. She is also interested in understanding people, positive psychology, communication, culture & discovery.