Unity is the best immunity (March 2020)
Dear students, parents and teachers,
A few months ago, "Corona" was a light Mexican beer and "quarantine" was something a cyclist could get if tested positive for doping - or something a footballer could get after a red card.
Over the past few weeks, this red card has become part of our everyday lives. There is no doubt that our society is facing a deep crisis that will mark all our lives. As individuals, we have already become restricted because the authorities are doing what they can to support the community and delay the infection. The health of the individual depends on the behaviour of us all.
Let me start by emphasizing that we in the school leadership are closely following the development of the Corona virus. Most of our students and teachers are in good health, but as a school we have a responsibility to consider the weakest in our country and support the containment of the virus. Unfortunately, for a period of time, this will limit our freedom and influence our choices. We follow the authorities' recommendations to the fullest. Therefore, NIS, together with schools all over Denmark, will remain closed for 14 days from Monday.
Plague or Corona
Up until the beginning of this week, it was widely believed that the outbreak of Corona virus was not very serious. But as a school principal, and as a historian with specialization in the history of diseases, I would like to draw on history to make us all think about how we act in our everyday lives now. As a student at school. As a parent and colleague in a workplace. As a responsible fellow citizen in a modern society.
As a student in the 1990s, I wrote about one of the greatest demographic disasters in world history: the plague, "The Black Death," which hit Europe in the Late Middle Ages.
The plague was fierce and terrifying - the worst disease humanity has ever experienced. In Europe, it killed half of the population, just as it ravaged much of Asia and perhaps even Africa. The plague struck across social divides and created a profound change in society at every level, wherever it struck. It put heavy pressure on the European population until the beginning of the 18th century, when it released its hold on Europe, and during the 18th century, the disease disappeared completely from the rest of the world. It is still debatable which disease - which microorganism - was behind the "plague".
Regardless, scientists today point out that the plague could only be eradicated because we as a society took precautions. A very long incubation period was, as far as we know, a characteristic of the plague, where one could pass on the plague without having any symptoms. Modern medical science had only just seen the light of day, and so it took hundreds of years for us to put an effective end to the plague in Europe, such as taking quarantine measures. In addition, it took a long time before we as a species had built up an immune system that could eventually withstand the plague.
The plague and other infectious diseases changed our way we organized our society. Among other things, it is the reason why we today have health authorities with far-reaching capacity ready to take the necessary steps to help and safeguard the population. Our community has experienced major medical gains since then, such as vaccines and antibiotics. The threats of our time such as swine flu, HIV / AIDS and ebola, for example, seem very few and have come under control with the right health measures. In general, we can feel safe in Danish society.
Following the recommendations of the authorities
Corona virus has challenged this sense of security. The new virus is by no means comparable to the plague, but it is a reminder that we as individuals have a responsibility to our community. The Danish authorities are doing what they can to limit the spreading of the infection. We must support this effort.
As a school, we are constantly aware of our responsibilities. We therefore follow the recommendations of the authorities closely and assess the situation hour by hour. We do not take any action on the basis of rumours, only on professional assessments and with the recommendations of the authorities. We know that we depend on looking after each other to reduce the risk to families and relatives of school students.
Our offices have received a lot of inquiries this past week and we understand your concerns. At present, there are no confirmed cases of Corona infection among NGG/NIS students or close families. We report all information on the new Firefly page, which is updated as necessary.
In addition, I ask for your understanding that the danger of the infection may have an impact on the events that were otherwise planned this spring. The Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced this evening that all schools must be closed on Monday for 14 days. What happens next we simply do not know. I think we all hope that the infection curve flattens out so much that after Easter we can continue back to normal with the school year.
In the last two days and in the days to come, we are communicating with you about how we will conduct online learning and in particular, how we will have our focus on the students sitting their IGCSE exams.
In this crisis, I appeal that we as students, parents and teachers stand together, though with a little more distance to each other than usual. With the help of each other we can make everyday life work and keep our spirits up – even if school is closed.
So let us wash our hands an extra time and follow the recommendations of the authorities.
Unity is the best immune system we have. Take good care of yourself and each other.
Raising our children is our shared responsibility (November 2019)
“A lack of parenting. Egoism. Failure at Parenting “
In recent media, allegations have been made against parent groups who are not capable of raising their children properly, or who defend their children when a teacher contacts home with a reprimand. The Danish newspaper Berlingske in particular has almost stigmatized the lack of boundaries in some parents’ raising of their children.
As the Principal for your children, I do not recognize this picture at all. Raising children is not solely a parental or school responsibility. In today's society, raising children is founded on a strong collaboration between school and home.
This approach to education requires in-depth cooperation between the school and parents, where we share responsibility for children's well-being. This takes time, and as a school we must constantly invest in teacher competencies to carry this responsibility. Otherwise, we will lose the connection in communication between the teacher and the parents, which is the focal point of children's development and learning in 2019.
The development places new demands on the school
Our children and young people are staying longer in school today than ever before, and the number of hours spent with a teacher or educator has only increased over the past few years. The time spent with mom and dad - or free unsupervised play for that matter - has been reduced to a minimum. That is the social reality that we, as a school, must relate to.
Societal development places a general requirement on schools and parents to become better at collaborating on children's development and well-being. Citizenship and education are two sides of the same coin today. On one hand, it can be exchanged for skills, higher education and in the long term a job. On the other hand, it can also be exchanged to form part of committed communities and to be a citizen of a modern, global society. Together, we must ensure that children receive 21st Century Skills - knowledge, digital and social skills - that will prepare them to seize the opportunities in the future. This is taught both at school and at home.
Diversity is a gift
NGG and NIS together is a large school with a wide geography and many cultural differences. We have students from Helsingør in the north, from Tikøb down to Rungsted and Nærum in the south. Added to this is the cultural diversity that is particularly visible at NIS, where we have children of parents from other countries who are not themselves raised with the values of the Danish school system. For my teachers and for myself, geographical and cultural diversity is a gift because we are able to use it actively in the citizenship and education of our students.
Our teachers work closely with all parent groups. As parents you come from different backgrounds, but a hectic everyday life is common to you. For most families, both mother and father are working. They are in a hurry - not with their own lives, careers and hobbies, which Berlingske would like to portray, but with living within the framework set by society in 2019 for every family.
When I, as Principal of NGG/NIS, cannot recognize this picture of a lack of parenting in the home drawn up by the media, it is because we as a school are constantly investing in parent collaboration. It requires time from the teachers but is simply a necessity in our society. We assume our share of shared responsibility, and it is my clear belief that you are doing the same.
Skilled, well-rounded people
When shaping a human being through learning & citizenship, there are no guarantees. It is a huge and enduring task that we work together on every day. No human being is flawless, and so the task of shaping a human can never be perfect either. But in nine out of ten cases, you as families, and we as a school react quickly and efficiently, the course is adjusted, and then we are on the right path again. Together.
I can promise that we as a school will continue to invest in working with you, and of course I would encourage you to continue to do the same and show us the openness that you do.
I know that as a school our most important task is to educate and make our children and young people professionally competent to complete their education and later move on into higher education. That is why we focus on creating a good framework for the development of 21st Century Skills and giving our students the keys that open the door to the community of the future. It is important to pass on global and social competences. We must constantly learn to learn from each other and about each other. It is in the wrestling field between people that we get to create some talented students who are also well-rounded people.
This is how our children and young people become not only something, but also someone.
Thank you as always for our good cooperation.