The age of technology has supposedly widened our horizons and ripped the opening hours sign in half; but what has technology actually meant for our children? Anyone with a teenager in the house will know that their child has acquired a blue glow – the reflection of a telephone or ipad screen on a zombified face. And what has grabbed their attention so strongly? Is it an inspiring TED talk or catching up on current affairs? – No, it’s a cat doing something silly or a youtuber giving their highly qualified opinion on a computer game or how it feels to put a teaspoon of cinnamon in their mouths, or better still watching some teenage boy flipping a water bottle.
So what will be the legacy for this generation deranged by drivel?
One school in East Sussex, has introduced a ‘look up’ policy, demanding that their students become more aware of the world around them and less transfixed by their screens. Buckswood School Head Master Giles Sutton said “At Buckswood we have always prided ourselves on our students emotional development as well as their academic careers and our new ‘look-up’ policy is designed to encourage our students to get some real world, first-hand knowledge and experience their world for themselves rather than through someone else – a real feast for the senses”.
Manners and deportment have long been the corner stone of what we expect from a private education, and at Buckswood, manners are as important as academics and sports as the school has a holistic ‘whole child’ approach to education. “There is little point to students leaving us with a set of exam results but no social grace,” said Mr Sutton “every Buckswoodian leaves with portfolio of qualifications and experiences that makes them a complete package – a useful addition to any organisation with the attributes for a successful professional and personal life”.
So how does the school instil these values in their students? “From the moment a student puts on their blazer, they know what is expected of them. We have high expectations; from eye-contact and a ‘hello ma-am or sir’, to standing aside for an adult or rising from their chairs when a visitor enters the room” said Mr Sutton. “we want our students to stand out from the crowd, for good reasons and our manners are often our calling card in life”.
Buckswood is set on a working country estate and the children quickly learn to respect and work alongside everyone from the teachers, gardeners, chefs and house staff. “This is a complete way of life, and parents and students have to appreciate that education is not isolated to the classroom. At Buckswood you are living the ‘Downton Abbey’ lifestyle and you have to behave accordingly”. Said Mr Sutton.
And the Buckswood approach is proving more popular than ever with its British and international families having to take their place on the waiting list. Mr Sutton says “Britishness has always had a cache that is exportable, and the completeness of the Buckswood curriculum in its widest sense is a tried and tested formula that parents return to again and again to bring out the best in their offspring. Our mail bags are full of letters from grateful parents, who have seen the sparkle return to their children and their mornings filled with eager children wanting to go to school rather than monsters from the deep needed extracting from their lairs”.
This week the school hosted a Modern Manners and Presentation workshop given by Juliette Ash, introducing the basics of how we communicate (whether we consciously choose to or not) through how we carry ourselves in our body language, tone and voice. A professional actor joined the workshop team, allowing the students to recognise ‘bad’ behaviour and learn how to employ ’good’ techniques.
This month has seen the Buckswood Sixth Form receive their university offers to such a wide variety of courses at unis such as Oxford and Cambridge, so if the proof of the pudding is in the eating, the pudding tastes good at Buckswood.