A personal and professional reflection
When lifelong international educator and leader, Ronald Stones OBE was issued his Work From Home (WFH) order by the Singapore government, he wondered what would happen next.
Time to reflect
As Singapore’s Circuit Breaker comes to an end, I am completing sixty days of working from home. As I was issued a Work From Home order (WFH) before the Circuit Breaker began, my order remains in force and I must continue to work from home until at least the end of the first transition phase we are now entering. So, it is a good time to reflect on what we have learned during this period, how we will change, and how we will not change as we enter the ‘new normal’. What good will come out of this time in which governments around the world worked tirelessly to save us from being obliterated by Covid-19.
Being in the world of education, it has been fascinating to watch how schools have reacted to being thrown into ‘learning from home’ – which we all knew was coming, but most had inadequately prepared for, given the one day’s notice of its implementation on schools’ closing. It seems that every school has aimed to personalise its approach and has guarded against as much pre-packaged and readily-available on-line lessons – despite their quality professional approach. Although this is to be commended since it has stressed the importance of the sociology of relationships in teaching and learning, one cannot help but question the efficiency and economy of such an approach, and understand the reason for setting up a possible ‘new normal’ in schooling like Genius University, in which students from the youngest age can earn credits by studying through different platforms and organisations and entrepreneurs rather than in one institution.
Pressure on families
Families managing an on-line approach to learning with their children’s schools providing lessons have experienced their own opportunities and stresses. Whilst some students can respond well to this form of learning, others find it difficult, and that is where the stress comes in. Many students at schools like Green School (of which I am a Trustee) are enrolled there because of the hands-on approach to learning, and the individual approaches that are offered to children with learning differences. They generally have more challenges with a customised approach to lessons online.
Establishing a routine
When my order to WFH was served, I really questioned how I could survive. I am used to being in high-pressured working environments so had to think through the habits and disciplines I should establish in order to maintain a rigid timetable and to still produce – even though my work was drying up. Throughout the period therefore, I have been waking up and exercising even earlier than usual, taking periodic exercise throughout the day, maintaining a commitment to a writing project, and not allowing myself that luxury of a first cocktail until the sun is over the yard arm at 18:30.
Actually, it has not been as difficult as I thought it would have been… Is this the new normal? There are aspects of the old normal that I miss – like enjoying my villa in Bali with the gardener climbing the coconut tree for my morning refreshment, like swimming in the non-roped-off swimming pool, like looking out over the rice fields and enjoying simplicity – but I will wait for their return until safe. Meanwhile, I look forward to being in the same physical rather than virtual space with good friends again.
Ronald Stones OBE
Ron is a graduate of Britain’s first technological university, has a postgraduate qualification in Education, and holds an MBA in Educational Leadership. Over a span of twenty‐four years, he held directorship positions of three of South‐East Asia’s prestigious international schools.
Most recently, he held the position of Vice‐President and Head of Education Practices to set up a whole new area of social entrepreneurship work for a successful organization in private investments based in Singapore.
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