Team work

As those of you who are regular readers of these weekly musings will know, I am of the opinion that education still has a long way to go to come up with an assessment framework that properly reflects the demands of modern adult life and the needs of 21st Century employers. Success in our lives and careers depends only partially on intellect or knowledge and far more on personal qualities, values and skills; the way that schools and exams boards design curricula and assess students needs to evolve more quickly and radically to reflect this.

I believe that we need to plan consciously to develop our young people’s emotional literacy, resilience, leadership, teamwork, creativity, strategic thinking and reflectiveness.

We also need to ensure that we are helping young people to shape and commit to the values that they will need to meet the moral and ethical challenges that the modern world will present them with - values like:

  • integrity;
  • tolerance and inclusivity; compassion; and service.

It is for these reasons that I favour the IB Diploma as an end of secondary school curriculum/qualification but feel it could go even further down this path, Especially since Tuesday, Teamwork has been a real theme of the week just drawing to a close. On Tuesday morning at staff briefing I challenged our teaching team with an article I had researched entitled, “Are you really a team player?” Survey any reasonably large group of people and the vast majority of them will say that they believe themselves to be team players but the title of the article (and indeed the content confirms this- see ) suggests that actually there is quite a lot more to being a good team player than many of us consider.

It concludes that qualities like self-knowledge, commitment, bravery, trust, humility, discipline, integrity and good listening skills are required to be a good team player- quite an intimidating list, truth be told! Later that afternoon, I took our U20 football team to Vienna College.

Now Vienna College have almost exactly twice as many students to select from as we do and put out 11 players who were generally older, bigger, stronger, faster and, in truth, more skilled than our boys. At the end of an excellent game of football the final score was 0-0. It is true that towards the end of the match Vienna College were beginning to dominate and they did create one very good scoring opportunity. However it is also true that we forced their goalkeeper into more saves than ours had to make over the course of the match and I don’t think any objective observer would have doubted that we thoroughly merited the draw. How did the boys do it? Their aching bodies the next day told the story.

They fought and scrapped and battled. They put their bodies on the line for each other. They communicated clearly and stuck to an agreed game plan. They supported and trusted each other and this gave each of them the self-confidence to play to his full potential.

In other words….they played like a team! The following day, as well as aching bodies, there was a clear sense of collective pride shining in the faces of these young men and you know, I can’t help thinking that, although they will undoubtedly go on to achieve wonderful things in the remainder of their school careers, not least, I trust, in their external examinations, this was a significant formative experience for them and one that they will continue to draw upon for many years to come.