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October 2017

Parenting Principal

AWith the prospect of affordable, excellent, poly-sensory and trans-cultural education on the not too distant horizon, Soul Action’s Phil Bowyer has been contemplating the nature of his role at the school.

I can’t recall how many times I’ve been asked,

‘so how do you see your role at the school?

Since we launched our campaign to raise ‘millions’ in November / December 2016, I have seen my contribution to gamechangers slowly increase, from simply speaking about the school, to designing artist impressions, researching government requirements, and – most recently – writing a comprehensive business plan. But none of these explain my future role.
Whilst I am an Accredited Minister, with Hons Degrees in Design, Theology, a Diploma in Youth work and Certificate in Art Foundation, I have no ‘formal’ teaching qualification, only classroom experience from my days as a youth and community worker. Which is why – up until a few weeks ago – I would have said I could see myself as the resident artist, school photographer, chaplain, or even the person in charge of the petting zoo – to name a few!

But then, after attending my sons final parents’ evening – before he leaves college at the end of the year – I had something of a revelation.

Let me explain…

As we queued to see our son’s mathematics teacher, we were joined by one of his classmates and her mother. We soon got chatting – about gamechangers! – so much so, that we didn’t notice the queue shrinking in front of us; even when it was our turn to see the maths teacher.

As we made our way home from parents evening that night, I wondered why this was the first time in over five years of schooling we’d had any sort of dialogue with another parent at a parents evening. Whilst we have developed good relationships with our sons teachers, it felt like we hardly knew any parents; which, on reflection, feels like a wasted opportunity.

Then it struck me: 

As well as fostering trans-cultural relationships among children, our innovative approach to education represents an incredible opportunity to be intentional about encouraging the exchange of ideas, deeper understanding, and respect for another’s culture, among parents.

Screenshot 2017-10-09 14.03.57My motivation behind establishing an affordable, excellent, poly-sensory and trans-cultural school has always been about the vision for an integrated South African society. I have always imagined this would be in a future reality, i.e. once our first intake of children reached adulthood. It never crossed my mind that what Soul Action has learnt from gathering business, charity, church and education leaders, over the last ten years, could apply to the way we work alongside parents of our children – who, after all, are leaders of families!

What I am imagining is ‘parents evenings’ – with a difference – as an opportunity to facilitate transcultural interaction between parents!

Just imagine parents from diverse communities, cultures, racial and socioeconomic backgrounds, sharing their unique experiences, discovering new things, learning from one another, exploring potential, expressing their creativity, thinking critically together, developing respect, and valuing one another. Just imagine the difference in society!

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