• Erika du Plessis

Educating and loving it!

Updated: May 28, 2019

"Pick me Ma'am......Pick me"

"Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood."

"Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will not die."

Quotes by Daniel Burnham

Hello – my name is Erika and I am part of an awesome team who are teaching young people and loving it!!

We are working at a private school, using a wonderful international curriculum and love seeing the learners flourish and grow into confident young people.

The question needs to be asked: “What is the advantage of a private school and why an international curriculum?”

Good question!

Its not a matter of being in competition with any other school/curriculum.

It’s all about how WE felt we could serve the community and what ‘tools’ we felt were the most effective.

Amongst other things, we were looking for:

· Small classes – so each learner could be known by name and taught as an individual.

· A system that incorporates mastery of content from the very foundation of the learning process.

· Time management principles as the students get older.

· Accountability towards their parents regarding their progress.

· Intelligent learning methods which allow the learner to meet realistic, and reasonable goals.

· A system that allows the parents, learner and staff to work together.

We felt that using the curriculum we have chosen; we are able to meet the criteria we set for ourselves and fulfil our hearts desire: i.e. Each role player is an integral part of a process that encourages mastery of learning.

But now we come to one of the most challenging and exciting aspects of teaching….

Not all students have the same learning styles. In fact, this generation is pushing all known boundaries and has made us rethink teaching methods.

One of the most practical, thought-provoking and interesting theories by Dr Kathy Koch: “The 8 Great Smarts: Discover and Nurture your Child’s Intelligences” {Chicago,Il:Moody 2009;2016}; suggests that students have 8 main (or a combination of 8) learning methods. The learning styles(“Smarts”) she identified were:

1. Word Smart students: These students enjoying conversing, reading and writing

2. Logic Smart students: These students tend to be inventive, love solving problems, and are curious.

3. Picture Smart students: Our creative students who are happiest designing, decorating, and solving problems creatively.

4. Music Smart students: Music calms these individuals, helps them concentrate and focus.

5. Body Smart students: generally, have good dexterity and flexibility, enjoy sport and active activities.

6. Nature Smart students: These young people love the outdoors, plants, animals, and any science that relates to nature.

7. People smart students: Enjoy being amongst people, are highly relational and function best when part of a group.

8. Self-Smart students: These are our reflective students, they enjoy their own company, love philosophizing, journaling and the freedom to make their own choices.

(Please note: this is my very short summary of her book – please read the book to get a more comprehensive understanding of her theory. It’s a very good read.)

But why are we so interested in learning methods? Why not stick to the tried and tested methods?


Our aim in education MUST, at the very least, be two-fold i.e. encourage a healthy curiosity which leads to creative problem solving, and embracing the awareness that education is for life while instilling cultural values adding worth to each individual.

This cannot be done by only using tried and tested methods, (which honestly can become tired and tested), but needs innovative thinking by the teaching staff who must apply various methods to the learners to encourage mastery of the material presented to them. Using the Smarts has assisted us in helping students understand their work and apply the principles.

So here we are.

A group of educators and support staff who are willing to employ inventive and sometimes ground breaking methods to catapult this generation into a fast paced, challenging modern world.

Let’s end the way we started.:

"Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood."

"Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will not die."

Quotes by Daniel Burnham, an architect who had the courage and foresight to see a new Chicago rising out of the ashes of the 1885 fire which destroyed buildings, hopes and dreams. In spite of numerous financial and personal setbacks, he went on to design and oversee the construction of numerous well-known buildings.

A life that continues to inspire people today.

Until next time


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