Instilling a burning love for life-long learning

Lindsey Miles

She didn’t realise it then, but the day Lindsey Miles joined Muizenberg Junior School as a new teacher, her future was already mapped out.

Never, back in 1985, would she have imagined herself still at the school, as deputy principal, 33 years later in 2018.

Ms Miles says many people find it remarkable that she is still at the junior school, but almost in a negative sense.

“The truth is, every year I am learning more. I am no longer the same person doing the same job. Teaching is a very dynamic role, and it demands constant growth from us, and at this school, we take that growth very seriously,” she says.

“However, when past pupils find out I am still here, there is also a sense of relief that there is still a familiar face here,” she laughs.

One pupil came back to the school after 30 years and brought her husband to show him her primary school. Ms Miles recognised her instantly.

“It was actually so lovely. We have classes of 34 children, on average, year after year, but, honestly, you never forget them, even when they grow up, they have the same faces.”

And not only is Ms Miles still at the school, she also has no plans to leave. She is firmly in her sweet spot, teaching, mentoring, and, most importantly, still learning, in a family-like environment.

This learning ethos is one the school has adopted in its approach as a “Thinking School”.

Its aim is to instil a love of life-long learning in the children and staff alike, developing critical thinking and creative problem solving.

Thinking School refers to the use of Dr Edward de Bono’s thinking tools and the children have been introduced to his thinking hats and mind maps.

Dr De Bono, a Maltese physician, psychologist, philosopher and inventor, originated the term “lateral thinking” and encouraged the teaching of thinking as a subject in schools.

Every teacher has attended the workshops and applies the concept in their classrooms, and there are weekly meetings where new ideas or functional ways of applying the skills are shared.

Although Ms Miles, who teaches Grade 5s, has been deputy principal for six years and she has enjoyed moving up the lad-
der, she is clear that she does not want the full-time role of principal.

She served in that position for a term until Vernon Erfort took up the role.

“Teaching, in the classroom, that’s where I want to be; it’s where I am at my best and my happiest,” she says.

To cope with limited space and growing numbers of pupils, the school has staggered break
times.

Ms Miles says that while the school has seen a lot of changes in its 120-year long history, it has always held on to its ethos of teaching lifelong learning.

“It is a safe space for our children, and we are proud of the family feel we have. Muizen-
berg Junior is a school with a
rich history, a good standing in the area, and a solid future,” she says.