Head’s Blog: Innovation Generation

DSC_0009I love Post-it notes! There are always a lot of them stuck on things around my office workspace and they help keep me organized and focused. Post-it Notes are so simple and the story of their creation is also a fantastic symbol of innovation and the impact of innovative thinking.

In 1968, while trying to develop a heavy-duty glue, a chemist at 3M accidentally created a very light adhesive called microspheres. As the development was unintentional, the microsphere adhesive was basically shelved. Several years later in 1974, a different person from 3M took that light adhesive and found a personal practical application for it. He was in a choir and marked important pages in his songbook with folded pieces paper that slipped out every time he held it up. So by using the light adhesive he found he could mark pages with small sheets of paper that didn’t fall out. Essentially, that was the birth and invention of what eventually became a very useful product.

Yet, it wasn’t until six years later that the Post-it Note was fully developed and marketed. In 1980, Post-it Notes went global as a product and spread immediately like a virus. Despite digital Post-it Notes today, the paper versions still remain very popular, with sales of more than $50 billion annually.

The Post-it Note is a classic innovation story. It was the product of active development, lots of iterations, unexpected results and a “eureka moment”.

I mention this because of what I saw last Thursday evening at our second annual LCC Design & Innovation Fair, an impressive event where Middle and Senior School students presented products and services they developed over recent months. The students were creative, courageous and passionate about developing an innovator’s mindset. Commendations to all involved!

I don’t think we’re ready to patent anything yet, but I’m certain that eventually that will happen. Until then, what’s most important is that more and more LCC students embrace an innovator’s mindset and familiarity with a cycle that includes comfort with brainstorming of ideas, endless problem-solving, refinement, marginal improvement and acceptance of incremental change as true achievement.

If you haven’t visited our LCC Fabrication Lab behind the LCC Store, take the time to do so. I urge all of our students to take advantage of this special makerspace and maybe, just maybe, they’ll discover the inventor hiding within!

Student Exchange: A Change of Pace in Australia

Nikolas_Gardilcic5I have been in Australia for two weeks now, and I am thoroughly enjoying my stay. At first, it is a bit tough to get used to being in a foreign country on the opposite side of the world, after spending around 24 hours on airplanes. A few days in, however, thanks to my welcoming Australian family and my fairly rapid adjustment to the 12-hour time difference, I began to feel comfortable in my new home. Now, I can’t believe I’m getting close to being halfway through my time here.

In Australia, winter is just arriving, yet so far it has been warmer than in Canada, despite it being spring over there. Our house is about a one-minute walk away from the beach, so we can go there anytime, which I thought was really cool since going to a warm and sunny beach is something you rarely get a chance to do when you live in Canada.

I am enjoying school. It is a very relaxing change of pace to be going to school and learning things but not having as much stress with loads of homework and studying. Without having so many things I need to get done when I’m at home, I can be more organized, not to mention I can get more sleep and not have trouble waking up early. I have had the chance to do many fun activities and have gotten to see some very cool things throughout my first two weeks here in Australia. I am looking forward to the next three weeks of my stay. – Nikolas Gardilcic ’19

Head’s Blog: Four Flags

IMG_0789If you walk by the front door of LCC’s main school building, you will note that we proudly fly four flags: Canada, Québec, LCC and Round Square. The final one requires some consideration. Although we are a member of many school associations, Round Square is more than a membership; it represents an ethos that underscores our approaches to education. Why is this significant?

Round Square is a global association of nearly 200 schools inspired by Kurt Hahn, an influential educator in Europe pre-WWII. He was a visionary who believed that it is concrete experiences beyond the classroom that have the most profound impact on student growth. Even in the 1930s, he was concerned about what he called “decays” in youth, especially regarding compassion, curiosity and the potential toxicity of entitlement. Hahn was adamant that the adolescent mind was too focused on the self and needed to be shaken and challenged by active learning experiences.

All Round Square schools dedicate time and attention to what have become key areas of focus, the RS IDEALS. This represents a commitment to Internationalism, Democracy, Environmentalism, Adventure, Leadership and Service. These foundational elements exist in all Round Square schools, from Canada to India to Thailand and Argentina, but always interpreted through a local lens.

If one looks at the Round Square flag, the organization’s name is there, but it is off centre, quite intentionally. A key objective of the Round Square ethos is to provide experiences that challenge students’ norms. When grappling with new ideas or experiences, students do broaden and shift their perspectives, preparing them to be more competent and confident global citizens.

During the past decade, membership in Round Square has had a significant impact on LCC students and our school. Through thoughtful discussion and a wide array of concrete experiences (international exchanges, conferences, service, leadership training) students have grown and developed in ways that are profound and lasting.

So now we are ready to welcome the world. In late September of 2018, LCC will host the Round Square International Conference, inviting approximately 450 student and adult delegates from 65-70 schools from around the world. Under the thematic banner of “Bring Your Difference”, together we will investigate the meaning and importance of diversity in today’s world. For a full week, our extended school community will come together to act as hosts and we look forward to everyone’s contribution. Reflect on this next time you walk by our four flags. Perhaps the concrete experience will push us all a little off centre and we will surely be the better for it!

Head’s Blog: In Defence of Truth

Do you always tell the truth? Probably not. In fact, I’m sure you don’t because none of us does. Honestly, people stretch, cover-up or mangle the truth for a host of reasons all the time, many of which are justifiable and humane.

For reasons of tact, compassion or diplomacy, we are all usually quite prepared to lie. Just to be nice, we tell a friend recovering from a serious illness that he/she looks okay, when in our heart of hearts we don’t believe it. You may not like your close friend’s outrageous new outfit, but as a true friend you will most often be inclined to offer a compliment to avoid hurting them for no good reason.

We are often forced to hide, soften, stretch, or maybe even misrepresent certain difficult truths in an effort to protect people, to not embarrass them in a public way. My mother used to call these white lies. We were taught at home that they were essentially okay, understandable and justifiable.

Yet, there isn’t a person alive who hasn’t bent the truth or presented a half-truth for personal gain or to get out of something you didn’t want to do. So, beyond white lies, the question is: how far will you go with stretching or bending the truth?

Unfortunately, lying to get your way can work or appear to work for you. But just because you manage to get away with it once – or even a few times – does not mean that it’s a good way to live because the truth matters.

We all need to accept responsibility for our actions, our behaviours, our general comportment and self-regulation. It is no surprise to you that baseline honesty or truthfulness is a key pillar of good citizenship, and a consistent record of honesty and dependability impacts one’s overall personal integrity and what we tend to refer to as character and one’s reputation. Honesty and consistency of behaviour help build a sense of trust, which is critical to stable friendships and harmonious family, work and community relations. It actually takes a long time to forge a solid reputation. However, if one becomes known for being a liar, all that you’ve built can collapse overnight.

I recently heard an interesting podcast by a Stanford University education professor and psychologist, Dr. Bill Damon. This noted psychologist has studied many attributes of human behaviour and has identified a trend in North America. More and more people seem to be lying primarily in an effort to boost their ego or simply for personal advantage in an increasingly competitive society.

Obviously, that’s not a good development. Professor Damon expresses a concern as a psychologist, that people who are inclined to lie about things are actually also being self-deceptive. They need to realize that his research also shows that such people are generally less competent, which can be very destructive in the long run. In essence, lying to yourself or to others catches up to you. Not facing the truth head-on is an easy way out but it doesn’t pay off in the long run.

Professor Damon’s work reminds us about the importance of foundational ideals such as honesty. He says that we often need to work hard to get to the truth. He also asserts that we need to defend the value of conversation, reasoning, debate, discovery, insight and, ultimately, the defence of truth, especially in schools where learning and ideas are paramount. If we were to allow lying and the law of the jungle to dominate, it will surely undermine our community and social fabric.

As you know, there’s a lot of talk these days about “fake news” – the fact that your inbox and social media networks are full of information expressly designed to deceive you or pull you over to the position of a particular friend, interest group or politician. So, discerning truth from falsehood – and the courage to defend the truth, is indeed honourable and principled – is now perhaps more important, yet more difficult than ever.

You can be certain that the defence of truth is what our founder Dr. Fosbery envisioned for his school in 1909 and was what our Canadian forefathers envisioned for this country 150 years ago as a key virtue for a free society. So I urge you today to stand up for honesty. Don’t deceive yourself; your personal development, your reputation and our society’s greater good all depend upon it!

Round Square Regional Conference: Learning to Be My Best Self

RS_ArgentinaThe Round Square Regional Conference of the America’s at Belgrano Day School sadly came to an end on April 25, 2017 – too fast for everyone participating in the conference.

Round Square is something that I have always had an interest in. Its philosophy of uniting six diverse IDEALS (International, Democracy, Environmentalism, Adventure, Leadership, Service) into one way of life is unique and definitely something that I wanted to be a part of.

I found out about this conference in Argentina a year ago. I remember having a good feeling about it and instantly wanting to go. After talking to students who had just came back from the conference in LA, I knew that it was something for me. The experiences they had and the lessons they learnt about being well-rounded powerful leaders were ones that I too wanted to embrace. Never did I think that my decision to go would have had such a positive impact on me.

Argentina, even though it is troubled in certain political, economic and social sectors, has a special and unique thing about it that is quite hard to find – a positive environment/atmosphere. From the moment I entered the doors of Belgrano Day School, not once was I subjected to negative energy. Everyone and everything gave off positive energy, fuelling everyone’s happiness throughout the week. Friendships were started with a laugh, hardships were overcome with a hug and tears came purely from laughing too hard. This helped change the conference from being great to being amazing.

During the conference, the delegates had the opportunity to embrace whatever was thrown their way due to the positive and supportive environment of the conference. From the workshops and Ben Walden’s amazing speech to Techo and the Photo Safari Day, these experiences brought us together and taught us about leadership, service and responsibility. They showed us the importance of teamwork and dedication. Techo was truly an eye-opening experience. In the short time we spent there, my barazza and I pooled our efforts to create the base of the house we were constructing. The family it was going to was one that consisted of three lovely ladies – a mother and her two daughters. At the end of the day, even though we were all physically drained, I will never forget the smile on those two little girls’ faces as they ran across the elevated floor. It made every second and every bit of sweat worth it. Their happiness was all we needed to come together and create something life changing for those humble and nice people we got to volunteer for.

My experience went above and beyond the lessons learnt about the IDEALS. I have to admit that this trip was the first one I was experiencing alone. At first, I was slightly scared because I was travelling to South America, a continent so far from home, a place I never thought of visiting. On the day of the opening ceremony, Mr. Page, the former headmaster of Belgrano Day School, made everyone feel welcome by beginning his speech accompanied by four teddy bears. The four teddy bears represented a hug for anyone who was homesick. I thought I would be one of those people needing a teddy to hug. Instead, the opposite happened. In Argentina, I never felt more at home. It’s culture and way of life is very similar to my own as I am part Italian. Right from the beginning, starting with my amazing host family, the Alonsos, I was welcomed with a hug and a huge smile. They were truly one of a kind. They share strong family values and traditions like my own family and the respect they have for each other and others is an example. I felt like I was with my family in Italy and in Montreal. My host family, with their loveable personalities, made my stay in Argentina even more memorable.

If I had to choose the most memorable part of my trip I would choose the wonderful people I met. Over the course of six days, I made friendships that I will keep for life. Whether they were delegates or student leaders, 15 or 17 years old, I connected with all of them. Many friendships started in interesting ways; some were started right in my barazza, with friendly competition when playing field hockey, with playful teasing, and with rock-paper-scissors in the middle of a food court. They made you feel welcome and when you were with them you felt positive. I realized the importance of surrounding oneself with positive people, the importance of having a positive attitude and the effects of positive energy in everyday life. It taught me a lot about myself and who I want to surround myself with. In such a short time we came together and formed a tight bond which I will never forget.

A big thank you goes to all the dedicated and passionate student leaders and organizers of this conference. The memories created are owed to them. With their outgoing, cheerful and friendly personalities, it made the conference successful. Their enthusiasm and smile was contagious and made this experience worth remembering.

This Round Square Conference in Argentina will be remembered forever. It has taught me the importance of service, leadership and leading by example. Most of all, it gave me insight on how to be my best self.

Thank you LCC and Ms. Shadley for this amazing opportunity! – MariaLuisa Vigano ’18