Wax, Wellington and Wellbeing: global essentials

This last week has been a whirlwind of activity for me in the great Chinese cities of Shanghai and Hangzhou, where I have had the pleasure of speaking at the Wellington Festival of Education. I have shared the experience with some other fascinating speakers and educators, and it has been enormously stimulating to elicit excited and immensely positive reactions from the many, many attendees – parents, teachers and other interested adults. I am returning to the U.K. on a real high, with a strong sense of having had impact and of having contributed to an important debate on education which transcends cultural boundaries. What a week!

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A recurring theme in the conference – one to which we kept returning, in various different guises – was that of ‘wellbeing’. Quite rightly one of the major issues of the educational world, wellbeing at EdFest manifested itself in several different ways, from Professor Ferre Laevers and his scale for measuring wellbeing, to Professor Sir Jonathan Bate’s work on reading poetry aloud as a way of improving mental health, and to Ruby Wax and her reflections on ‘How to be Human’; if you have a chance to see her brand new one-woman show on tour, go! The laughter alone will make you feel more mentally healthy, let alone the messages she imparts.

As part of this journey over the past week, the conversations we had have taken my thinking on social and global mobility to another level, namely that the intercultural confidence that forms the core of global mobility is an important contributor to wellbeing, to the extent that we cannot afford any longer to ignore the deep and central importance of global mobility in schools, and as an underpinning driver for student activity in and beyond the classroom. Global mobility is a fundamental subcomponent, I demonstrate, of social mobility, which is all about young people having choices in life – the choices that lead to self-determination in life and a sense of purpose, both of which are prerequisites for wellbeing.

Global mobility matters! And, as I have been sharing with parents and educators over the past few days, it is eminently possible to achieve, with the right combination of inspiration, catalysing and coaching. I love helping schools on the path towards a closer embedding of great practice in their work, and the amazing discussions I have had over the course of EdFest China have strengthened my resolve.

Together we can make a difference – onwards!!

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