Akwaaba, and welcome everybody to a new school year!
My name is David Spooner, and I am proud to have been invited by the Founding family, and by Dr. Ken, to join TIS as its new Diploma Coordinator. It is not my first visit to TIS, however; four years ago I and another colleague were invited to give a Theory of Knowledge Workshop, and when, earlier this year, I saw that the position of Diploma Coordinator was to become vacant, I had no hesitation: I remember what it felt like being here, and how welcoming and hospitable everyone was, and decided that here was where I wanted to be.
Luckily, Dr. Ken and the Founding family agreed…and here I am, a nervous, excited raring-to-go newbie!
This year the school is to undergo its third International Baccalaureate Diploma 5-Year Review. This is important because it gives us the opportunity to showcase our talents and to demonstrate to the IB that we deserve our World School status! Thus, this year, we will all be looking at every aspect of the school, including the teaching and learning, school policies, the steps we take ensure that we live and breathe our Mission Statement, and that of the IB, as well as embody the principles of the learner profile. No stone will be left
unturned…and when we put those stones back, the school will be better as a result…which means that the education your sons and daughters will receive will be better. I will be supported in that by my colleagues, of course, but also by the students, and by yourselves, so at various stages in the year I will be contacting you and asking for your thoughts and feedback on a number of aspects of the school, and I thank you in advance for your wonderful support.
Before coming to Ghana, I have taught in a number of IB World schools in a number of countries. I am from the UK, and since leaving have taught in Spain, Finland, Lebanon, Greece, Jordan, Italy and France. For many years I have been an IB workshop leader, helping teachers to become better teachers, a curriculum writer (I am partly responsible for writing the current Philosophy Guide) and am also an examiner, school authorization visitor, and…a 5-Year Evaluation visitor! So, I would like to think I know how the IB Diploma works, inside and out, and I am proud to be able to bring whatever expertise I have to help make TIS even better than it is.
With that in mind, I am very happy that the Diploma Programme is expanding this year to offer two new courses, Philosophy and French ab initio.
Having received many requests from students for the introduction of French Ab initio, the Department of Language Acquisition is proud to be able to add French Ab Initio as one of the languages that IB Diploma and course students may study. This will serve as a great opportunity for students who have not yet had the opportunity to learn French, but who wish to. We cannot forget that Ghana is surrounded by Francophone countries, and thus the increased opportunities that being able to begin to study French at TIS in Ghana bring are suddenly multiplied.
We are also offering the study of Philosophy as an option in the Diploma Programme, as a supplement to the other courses available in the Department of Individuals and Societies. Philosophy sometimes gets a bad press: it is often seen as a pointless subject, where there are never any clear answers; sometimes it is seen as a dangerous subject, because dictators and charlatans do not like people who can think critically; it is often seen as impractical because there is no clear career-progression attached to it. However, as Kwame Anthony Appiah
“I started philosophy looking for answers. But along the way I came to prize exploring the questions. Progress
consists, I think, in a clearer delineation of the conceptual options, not in reaching determinate conclusions.”
Not many of my previous students went on to study Philosophy at university (one of them did, and she now begins her tenure as a Professor of Philosophy at Pennsylvania State in the U.S.A. Not bad at all!). The rest went on to study a variety of subjects at a variety of universities, and studying Philosophy gave them the ‘edge’ over other students, and the fact that they studies Philosophy gave the student who is now beginning a specialization in thorassic surgery a greater understanding of medical ethics; gave the lawyer a greater understanding of rhetoric, and gave the aid worker for Medecins sans frontiers a greater intercultural understanding. Philosophy also got me here, to TIS. And, in a world where it is becoming increasingly difficult to know how to spot the difference between truth and falsehood, the real and the fake, Philosophy provides a toolkit of transferable skills for doing just that, and more.
I look forward to meeting as many of you as I can in the future.