Packing for The Journey

May 22, 2020

After a long period of e-learning, we have been delighted to welcome back students to our school this week. Over the next few days, we hope to open up for the lower grades to return as well. These events, while perhaps small in themselves, are important signs of a world seeking a return to business as usual. Classrooms have once more echoed with the happy clamour of active learning; teachers have reconnected with each other and their students in person; and many friendships, temporarily dormant, or heavily filtered by social media, have been brought back to life. It is a time of renewed hope for the future.

While the time remaining in the academic year is limited, these final weeks do give us a valuable opportunity to achieve closure, say farewell to an extraordinary year, and perhaps make sense of what we have accomplished over the past months. Our year-end graduations and advancements will most likely be heavily modified or virtual —— we can embrace each other in triumph, but only at a distance. These events will, nonetheless, convey a celebratory spirit that we hope will resonate throughout the ISF community and give us heart for next year.

As we reflect on the year now ending, unlike any other in my experience, with its starts and stops, ups and downs, and its many highs and lows, it is reasonable to ask of ourselves what we have learned that is of lasting value. We can agree on the things we would prefer to forget, I am sure. In the very Deweyan sense, however, we should also ask how those things that really matter, that resonate and endure, will shape our lives, thoughts, and actions in the future. Experiential learning at its best creates the possibility for further educative experiences in the future.

At a time when global physical travel is largely in recess, it seems appropriate to invoke the metaphor of the journey as we prepare for an uncertain future. We are indeed going to a place we have never been before. As with any journey, we need a packing list: what to bring and what to leave behind. We don’t want to be burdened with unnecessary baggage that will impede our progress. Where we are going will have its own troubles and cares, so we don’t need to bring those from the recent past. At the same time, the things that will aid us in a time of need in the future, those we must take with us.

There are important choices here: what will sustain us in our onward journey? The maxim that we should pack light to travel fast seems appropriate. Agility is key.

Sifting through our personal experiences wrought in recent adversity, we may find some essential items to complete our packing list, things that are precious and true. Skills, character, temperament, knowledge, confidence, independence, resilience, and courage —— these are all things we may find within, if we look for them. No two lists will be exactly same, I suspect. I do hope, however, that during 2019-20 we have all discovered one or two deeper and perhaps unexpected truths about ourselves and those who are important to us.

We still have a little time left as we prepare to make our way to the departure gate in mid-August. Have you over-packed or made wise choices for 2020-21?


Dr. Malcolm Pritchard

Head of School