Developing awareness

The Round Square program builds international consciousness

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Since 2001, Bayview Glen has played an active role in Round Square, a unique and student-focused association. More than 50 schools on five continents are members of Round Square, which asks students to make a commitment, beyond academic excellence, to personal development and responsibility.

This mandate helps students develop both the skills and abilities to process information and analyze world issues with an ever-broadening global perspective.

Bayview Glen's involvement with Round Square gives us a key resource to provide students with experiences beyond the classroom. We want to give them opportunities to manage situations while outside their day-to-day comfort levels. This helps to give them new ways to see themselves as part of something bigger and greater than they had previously known. These real world experiences also let students grow, learn and become empowered.

The Round Square program is brimming with opportunities for students to participate in meaningful community service, international work projects, exchange programs and conferences that take them around the world. In short, Round Square gives students first-hand knowledge/experience of global ethics, politics, cultures, human need, geography and social environments.

Students who participate in these often eye-opening and life-changing endeavours return with a richer understanding and a greater respect and responsibility for others. As a co-educational and multicultural school, it is also our goal to celebrate as many cultures as possible within the school community. Though participation in Round Square, students from around the world are also welcomed on exchange to Bayview Glen and become immersed in our school community. This maximizes understanding of other cultures and nurtures respect and international understanding. 

Round Square is built on a series of six pillars or IDEALS: International understanding, the practice of Democracy; caring for the Environment; personal challenge through Adventure; preparing for Leadership roles; and learning the privilege and values of Service.

While these are concepts that are discussed in the classroom, by experiencing these IDEALS in real world situations, students gain a deeper and enduring understanding. Students develop a greater appreciation for others and for themselves, as a well as a sense of increased importance in their roles as contributing members of their community and their world.

Through Round Square experiences, students learn to see themselves as responsible global citizens. They are asked to look beyond gender, nationality and culture to understand the true nature of all human beings and to take responsibility for the welfare of others.

A focus on the day-to-day practice of democracy helps students clarify its essential role. Of course freedom of speech is encouraged and students are expected to take an active role in the running of the school. The rewards include enhanced personal maturity and an appreciation for the importance of self-discipline.

Participation in Round Square environmental programs and work projects helps students understand the fine balance and interdependence between man and the planet. They are expected to be environmentally aware and play a practical role in solving issues.

Learning through physical adventure helps students to develop good health, moral fortitude and a solid foundation for personal development as they challenge themselves through various outdoor pursuits. Round Square calls this building body and soul through adventure.

Students prepare for life-long leadership roles by being asked to take on responsibility for people and process. Round Square believes that true leadership is found in those whose convictions are rooted in personal responsibility, kindness and justice, and these are traits that we embrace and encourage. Opportunities for student leadership are fostered and carry substantial responsibility. International conferences where students meet and delve into world issues bring forth the concepts of leadership and teamwork.

The joys and rewards of serving others is an often-told experience from students returning from work projects around the world. Students contribute thousands of hours working as labourers, side-by-side with local people as they construct new buildings, improve water systems and teach children, and providing other support in village communities in countries such as India, Thailand, Kenya and the Dominican Republic.

The principles and programs of Round Square are based on the theories of Kurt Hahn. Considered to be one of the 20th century's great educational innovators, Hahn believed that while schools should prepare students for university, there was indeed a greater goal: "To prepare young people for life by providing opportunities for them to experience it directly, in ways that would demand courage, generosity, imagination, principle and resolution."

Hahn felt each developing person had the potential for both excellence and failure and that the responsibility of educators was to create circumstances that would allow young people to experience and rationally understand the potential for success and failure, as well as to nurture personal qualities that would help them learn, grow and evolve into constructive and responsible adults.

Hahn wrote the following series of precepts for schools:

This year alone, more than 50 Bayview Glen students will go on exchanges and service projects around the world and participate in international conferences where they will be challenged to problem-solve global issues. The destinations are extensive and include Australia, Kenya, India, England, Germany, Peru, South Africa, Costa Rica and Cuba. As well, our school will have welcomed more than 40 exchange and gap students from Quebec, British Columbia, the United States, England, Germany, South Africa, Kenya, Australia, New Zealand and Peru.

Experiential learning will continue to be a key element in our constant goal of nurturing and supporting the whole child and helping students to become responsible and caring global citizens. Our association with Round Square and many other programs, including Outward Bound and the Model United Nations, are reinforcing a highly prepared and informed perception of globalization and a true understanding and appreciation of the international forum.

—Eileen Daunt
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