Waterford Kamhlaba United World College Southern Africa - (WKUWCSA)

Conrad Hughes (Switzerland, WK 87-93)

Briefly tell us about what inspired you to write the article titled “How can international education reduce students’ prejudice?”

The four pillars of education, as suggested in the 1996 UNESCO Delors Report, are: to learn to know, to learn to do, to learn to be and to learn to live together. In order to do any of these, individuals and groups must be metacognitively aware, wise, open-minded critical thinkers capable of deep understanding, empathy and lifelong learning. Undoing prejudice is the central act that education can do to allow us to develop in those directions; to evolve from dogmatism, bigotry, closed-mindedness, fear of others and a fixed mindset to the dispositions needed to make the world a better place. Note that prejudice is not just about being racist, sexist or xenophobic; Enlightenment writers referred to it quite simply as pre-judgement:making bad conclusions without sufficient evidence. Reducing prejudice is improving thinking. I’m writing a doctorate (my second) at Durham University on the subject and my book on the theme will be published by Routledge in a year from now.

Briefly tell us about your role at International School of Geneva

I’ve just changed jobs, from Director of Education, where I developed Guiding Principles for Learning in the 21st Century with UNESCO, to headmaster of La Grande Boissière, the first International School in the World (1924).

What role did Waterford play in your career path choice?

At Waterford, I learnt that education has the power to federate people of different horizons: we are one world, “Kamhlaba”. I was inspired by some incredible teachers such as the late Roelf Huysmans – there was something other-worldly about him and I was enchanted by his love of culture and literature, something that moved me and no doubt crept into my subconscious desire to be part of the transmission of knowledge.

Do you have any fond memories of Waterford? Please share.

Singing the national anthem at assembly, doing the mural with Malangatanga, the 24 hour run, social at Elangeni hostel, basketball matches at night (we had a great team led by the talented Lefika Setshwaelo (Botswana, WK 1988-1993) and Isaac Ebinu). All of it converges in my mind as one of the happiest times of my life: I found myself at Waterford.

What advice would you have for aspiring students to be involved in education?

Read the following books; Plato’s The Republic, Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s The Emile, Lev Vygostsky’s Thought and Language and Pellegrino, Chudowski and Glaser’s Knowing What Students Know (there is much more of course!). Study education but go further into the field of cognitive psychology, social psychology and the sociology of education. Above all, bring your uniqueness with you, don’t be like everybody else.

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