I have always admired my grandfather. A life-long learner, he received his PhD around the age of seventy, and at ninety-five, limited to a weakening body and the confines of his nursing home room commenced a post-graduate diploma in Philosophy. Born in the North of England into a large and struggling working class family, my grandfather always had to work hard to achieve any of the benefits that we usually take for granted. The value of a quality education was paramount to my grandfather, and he would stop at nothing to ensure that he could learn.
Fast forward several years, and here at Hartland, we have the opportunities available of which my grandfather could have only dreamed. Being made aware of the ever-quickening changes in the landscape of Covid-19 and the need to move our schooling online, I was wondering how we could keep up the high standards of learning to which we have grown accustomed. My concerns were quickly allayed as I saw first-hand the incredible adaptations made – and the learning which could continue; not only in the traditional sense as in the information which could still be provided to students, but in the innovative and creative way in which it could be conducted, including, but by no means exhaustive, live PE lessons, cooking demonstrations, combined story and art and the dramatic renditions of monologues.
The importance of continual learning cannot be under-estimated. And it’s certainly not just for students in the traditional sense. No matter what our profession or season in life, people change, needs alter, and we must always look for ways to adapt and flex. Apart from learning to meet new demands, we learn because it’s engaging and enjoyable, it increases our cognitive capacity and gives us the opportunities to connect with a broader range of people.
As the Student Support Counsellor, I have quickly had to move what is essentially a nuanced face-to-face role, to the online world. Challenges notwithstanding, to ensure the continual wellbeing of staff, students and parents at Hartland, my counselling role now operates through the medium of video and written blogs, in addition to emails or Zoom calls with individuals and groups.
The beauty of learning is that it never needs to stop and there will never be a point at which we can say we’ve arrived or there is nothing further to learn. American author Brian Herbert once said, “The capacity to learn is a gift, the ability to learn is a skill, the willingness to learn is a choice”. Let us continue to learn!
Student Support Counsellor
Anna White is our Student Support Counsellor at Hartland International School. Originally trained as an occupational therapist in Australia, Anna has since obtained her Masters of Counselling and has a wealth of experience with children, teenagers and their parents, supporting them to reach their full potential and feel more emotionally secure. Anna has lived in the UAE for the past nineteen years and is has four children aged between ten and sixteen.