UKEdMag: Under the Bridge Thinking by @_misseaston

This article originally appeared in Issue 46 of the UKEdMagazine. Click here to view

It’s the end of the first week of term and it has been so positive. I have tried to spend most of my day being the leader I want to be, engaging the ‘spirit energy’ (see Peter Drucker). I spent summer reflecting on my values and vision, and I’m fortunate to have been handed the reins for the Curriculum in my school. To realise the vision, I’ve employed the help of a team of subject leaders, and today I met with them for the first time. I knew this was probably our most important discussion; my opportunity to engage them in the future (see Steve Radcliffe, Future Engage Deliver), and so I spent the week prior to this discussing and reflecting with SLT to ensure I was ready.

My concern was how to engage my team in the vision I had spent so long formulating, in just the hour I had with them. Talking to my colleagues this week we found ourselves referring to narratives and stories that breathe life into our beliefs. Recently I came across a Buzzfeed article about the School Under the Bridge and it resonated.

Situated under a subway bridge in Delhi, India, the school was set up by Rajesh Kumar Sharma.

“Back in 1989, I had to drop out after the first year of college in Aligarh due to worsening financial condition of my family. When I passed out of class 12 in the science stream, I too dreamt of becoming an engineer. That unfulfilled dream has turned into this school.”

Sharma had a moral purpose, and he did something about it. What he didn’t have was money, teachers or even a building to put the children in. Yet the school has grown from 3 to 200 pupils, the local community regularly donate clothes and equipment and Sharma is accompanied by other volunteer teachers.

“I just believe I have to give my best in teaching these children because otherwise, they will become part of a generation lost due to poverty.”Sharma experienced a reality where a child’s future was dictated by the income of their parents. This was his burning platform. He had no means to achieve his vision other than his will, and he made the jump. This is the essence of what I want my team to understand. These children are our burning platform. Our vision for them is non-negotiable.

As John Jones says, we are the difference. Is it acceptable that we don’t realise our vision because we don’t have the time, or money, or staff? Can we offer an acceptable excuse for our children’s life chances to be compromised? Like Sharma, I believe not. So, in today’s meeting I shared Sharma’s story and put the question to the team; What is our School Under the Bridge thinking? This is the question we will return to as we work through the process of redesigning our curriculum and making it fit for purpose for our young people.

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