Re: April Update
Most of you will be aware that we have had a bumper academic year for offers from elite universities in the United States especially, as evidenced by offers from Harvard, Stanford, Yale, MIT, Cornell, and John Hopkins. By no means has this ended. This says a great deal about not only the quality and determination of boys, but also the thoroughness and skills of both our university guidance counsellors and teachers at Aitchison College. Each deserves our recognition and admiration. Importantly, Aitchison enjoys these results while maintaining a broad and challenging curriculum in sport and activities where character development through ‘action’ remains the key focus. There is a strong logic to this approach.
Many top universities will tell you there are no magic formulas for admissions. Harvard, for example, states that academic accomplishment in secondary school is crucial, but so too are other criteria such as community involvement, extracurricular activities, and even work experience are all considered. Still it goes further; strength of character, ability to overcome adversity, enthusiasm, creativity and other measurable personal qualities all play a part in separating many outstanding applications. How that occurs is anyone’s guess! In addition, we might add the ever-challenging essay or personal statement –then interview. What we learn from this is that grades and test scores may help determine a boy’s promise, but these are not the sole determents by any means. Aitchison College’s approach to education mirrors this in an extensive, challenging broad education that extends to international competitions as well as local community service and work experience. This wide engagement shapes both interesting, relevant and ‘aware’ young men. In contrast, Oxford has its own and slightly different approach. Indeed, navigating the plethora of admission criteria and their subtleties across the world is a full-time task.
We are all so very proud of our boys who have succeeded through their own mighty efforts as much as receiving help and encouragement from others. They have shown something special. Beyond this lies the real and broader story of Aitchison, and I fully expect continuing good news for the great majority seeking their preferred options in the USA, Canada, and UK, and across the world, as well as here in Pakistan. Of course, these are only offers and the game is not over! Continued effort and attention to examinations will be just as important in holding these offers. These can be withdrawn! A general caution might be that boys who ‘go missing in action’ or simply stop working, will more than likely lose conditional offers. We must work together so this does not occur.
Having had the opportunity to meet with a number of leaders from excellent schools in the United Kingdom, America, Canada, Australia, Germany and New Zealand, I am ever more convinced that character and well-being are indispensable qualifications for boys in a world now transforming fast in its technology, values and ideas. Young men in as little as 10 years’ time will engage in a very different and increasingly interconnected world. This impels us to revisit how we might re-instil the values of optimism, interconnectedness, mindfulness, resilience, ethics, honesty, grit and with new vigour as we prepare boys to be leaders and optimists in a future where we anticipate many traditional careers, or parts thereof, will be absorbed under ‘AI’. Grades alone will be insufficient as a preparation. The best minds tell us that adaptable humans will distinguish themselves mostly through flexibility, creativity and an ability to reason as ‘AI’ increasingly dominates the world of calculation and manufacturing. Because of this, relevant schools are now recommitting to holistic education that supports boys in their growth as healthy, critical and creative thinkers as opposed to systems merely ‘hothousing’ narrow academics. We are beginning to see this is in STEM, and other integrated curricula designed to encourage broader thinking and collaborative learning, pulling together the threads of concepts and ideas that underpin creativity. We are witnessing this in the growth of ‘Positive Education.’ I am pleased to report that Aitchison is at the forefront of this with Harkness Table and Meta Cognition, but our aims in 2018-19 will also be to generate more opportunities for collaborative learning, strengthen student well-being, stay in line with rapid developments in IT, and commit to extensive and relevant teacher professional development.
Finally, I wish to acknowledge how important our ‘Old Boy’ network is in the forward movement of the College. This is a brilliant resource and I encourage the engagement of new graduates in ACOBA, as well as seizing opportunities to contribute to their alma mater as they progress through their careers. I made mention of this in my Founders’ Day speech. In all spheres of our operation the ‘old boys’ continue to contribute to our institutional well-being. Not only in sport, but in academics, mentoring, and careers. We should visualise Aitchison as a broad community stretching beyond Pakistan with a network of support open to all young men. May this long continue and prosper as we all build a better, stronger and always relevant school for the 21st century.