International Accolade for Headmistress of Senior College

Headmistress of Senior College, Ms Jacqueline White was invited earlier this year to Korea as guest speaker at an international educational conference organised by the Korean education ministry in response to a growing problem in their education system; although students consistently place near the top in the world in PISA rankings for Maths and Science, these results are coming at an increasingly high social cost.

Miss White was the only educator in the Southern Hemisphere invited to attend the conference where 1000 secondary teachers attended the two day conference held in the Gyeonggi Province south of Seoul.

The invitation to speak is recognition of the esteem in which Ms White is held on the international educational stage. It is also, as Ms White is quick to assert, a sign that Pinehurst is well respected internationally for the way in which it balances its students’ academic and pastoral needs.

Presenting on engagement in the New Zealand classroom, Ms White’s focus was on the balance between ensuring students are provided with a rigorous academic course while making sure they enjoy the experience.

According to Ms White, many believe that the pressure to gain entrance to top universities, coupled with the fear of bringing shame on one’s family through failure, has led to serious consequences for this generation of Koreans. Teachers, parents and health professionals are worried by the rising trend in anti-social behaviour which appears to have its roots in the demands of the Korean education system. Schools are reporting an increase in bullying that is of an extremely violent nature, involving knives and other weapons and which, on occasion, has led to students being charged with manslaughter.

Related to this is the well-documented issue of examination-related suicide attempts. In essence, the Korean government is looking to Western education for answers. They are attempting to find the happy medium between a world-class education system and a well-adjusted, healthy youth culture.

Ms White explains that it is vitally important that students engage positively and willingly in what they learn.

“A key factor in ensuring this happens is the teacher’s relationship, both with the broader class and with the individual student. The teacher must be willing to relate to their students as “equals” and also show a genuine interest in the student as a person, not simply as a student.”

 As well as her paper on classroom engagement, she was invited to take part in a panel discussion on bullying.

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