You know your kids are special. They might drive you crazy sometimes but underneath they are smart, savvy and caring. You want a school that will find their talents and bring out the best in them. However, the world is changing and it’s changing fast. Finding the right school might not be as easy as it was.
You want your kids to leave school with the skills, qualifications and mindset that mean they will do well and be happy. But we are in the 21st century…
Technology is transforming the world of work, who knows what a career will look like in ten years’ time!
Higher education options are global, your teenagers might be looking to study at top universities the world over, how do you guide them?
Information is everywhere and yet sorting the real from the fake is harder than ever. As is learning how to take eager eyes off that glowing screen.
There is so much pressure on your kids to get those grades, how do you motivate them to study without crushing their enthusiasm?
At Institut Montana on the Zugerberg, a peaceful spot overlooking the lively city of Zug, these challenges have been met. It’s a school with a long history and a thoughtful approach to innovation. These qualities have set it up to educate today’s young people to be healthy and happy today and to thrive in the world of the future, whatever that might bring.
What can their experience tell us?
The world is getting smaller. A global perspective is an important key to unlock a bright future. Being in command of more than one language is a valuable resource – and knowing another language opens up the brain to a wider range of concepts..
From its opening in 1926, these have been core components to life at Institut Montana. They remain so today. Representing over 43 nationalities among its staff and students, the school is a welcoming multi-cultural community. There is a choice between the nationally based Swiss curriculum leading to the Swiss Matura or an international path via Cambridge International programmes to the International Baccalaureate. The school describes its mission as educating the global citizens of tomorrow and every opportunity to achieve this goal is grasped whole-heartedly, from clever adaptations of the curriculum to special projects that explore the issues that challenge our global society.
It is in language learning that the school truly excels. The Bilingual Elementary school for 6 to 12-year old’s has children fluent in German and English by the time they are ready for secondary education. A Bilingual Secondary School follows a Swiss curriculum in skill development for the modern world at the same time as teaching proficiency in second and even third languages. Both German and bilingual tracks are offered for the Swiss Matura and the school’s international section is a veritable babel of language learning opportunities, with German, French, English, Spanish, Russian and Mandarin. All these programmes are supplemented by a sophisticated and individually devised support system. This is the approach that will help today’s children grow into accomplished adults who can live gracefully in the world of tomorrow.
That smart phone in your teenager’s hand might be a fabulous tool for finding out the population of Jakarta or the dates of WWII, but it also bombards with false facts and disinformation. How to sort the good from the rubbish? People have always been susceptible to persuasion and we have defences – knowledge, insight and analysis. Now more than ever, defence is crucial.
Schools are hugely important in developing informed, independent thinking in their students. Institut Montana was at the forefront when these methods were new, introducing exploratory learning (taking apart a transistor radio and re-assembling it for example) when it was a game-changer. In the 21st century, modern teaching methods are about helping students to research, assess their sources, and use evidence to make judgements. Institut Montana students face this every day, whether they are studying literature for their IB or business studies for their Matura.
Love to Learn!
One consistent point we can make about the 21st century is that change is a constant so it’s more important than ever to keep learning. Getting good grades is important but if you love to learn then good grades are the by-product.
Loving to learn includes skills, such as research and analysis, and attributes, such as curiosity and focus. The ways school can help are wide-ranging. Passionate teachers who transmit their enthusiasm are important but there is more. Teachers have to be great teachers to instill good study skills and school organisation has to keep up.
Institut Montana has always attracted good teachers (that glorious location, those elegant buildings and that friendly atmosphere probably help!), but recent developments have been designed with the importance of learning skills at heart. The Learning Centre, where students have time and quiet space for independent study with teachers on hand to consult for example. It is reflected in the individual attention you see teachers giving to their students (a high teacher: student ratio is a benefit). When you talk to a Montana student, they always mention how well supported they feel in their learning.
Many education systems are still found to sap the natural creativity that children are born with. That is not the way to face the 21st century! But international schooling has, since its beginnings, had freedom to adapt the curriculum to a context and often does better here.
The uniting philosophy bringing the different academic paths under one roof at Institut Montana highlights creativity. Creativity is more than the Arts, although the school is strong here too, with lively drama and creative writing clubs and an inspiring visual arts department. But creativity is everywhere. An exciting new development seeks to encapsulate this goal. An old building (it is fitting that it’s the iconic Chalet that was the Pavilion for Switzerland at the 1906 Milan World Trade Fair) is being converted into their ‘Incubator’. It will be a hub for new ways of thinking and learning about society, business, politics, economics. It will provide the base where the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, the businessmen and women, the scientists and the philosophers, find their talents and hone their skills.
Mens sana in corpore sano!
The Romans gave us the mantra of ‘healthy mind in a healthy body’ as the gift a human being should be most thankful for. Now there is plenty of science that backs up its importance and ‘well-being’ has come to the top of the list of things we should nurture. But what does this mean for your teenagers and how can school help?
Many schools nowadays put student well-being at the heart of school life, and Institut Montana is no exception. In fact, it went a step further by creating a whole school department with that very focus. It includes everything practical about safety and child protection but also ensures that emotional and mental health are sensitively and effectively cared for. Support systems are easy to access and approachable. There are even dedicated sessions on mental resilience, a quality that can only help your teenager deal with the challenges life will, no doubt, send.
Back to that healthy body. As well as competitive sports (the school has great facilities for tennis, football, ice-hockey, volleyball, the list goes on) it’s about cultivating an active approach to daily life. On the Zugerberg, surrounded by hiking-trails, a mountain bike descent from the doorstep, the lake of Zug down the hill, with ski weekends and yoga, with rock climbing and Zumba, everyone has a chance to stay active. And students reach their classes with a healthy walk along a tree-lined avenue, breathing mountain air and nourished by fresh water from their own spring. That sets you up well for modern life.
Above all, facing the 21st century is about our young people having the skills and attributes to engage with the world. Teenagers often believe they know everything, that they are invincible. That is the joy of being young. We, their parents and their teachers, understand where to guide, where to encourage and where to motivate. That is our very important contribution to how the next generation will handle the world.