Glendale Academy: Future-ready education for 21st century India
The Government of India in its latest budget has emphasised upon the education sector. It has highlighted the need of job oriented education which is based on skills. There is need of schools and colleges in India which could offer future-ready education. Today, we are going to talk about one such school which has imbibed the modus operandi of offering future-ready education in its curriculum since inception. We are talking about none other than Glendale Academy. In a conversation with Anjum Babukhan, Director of Glendale Academy, Business View Magazine asked many questions pertaining to leadership and operations of the institute. Read below the complete interview:
Business View Magazine: Please walk us through Academy’s profile.
Anjum: Glendale Academy was founded in 2003 with the vision to “empower and enrich lives through the powerful medium of education.” We are an international school adhering to world class standards in infrastructure and pedagogy. Our aim is holistic development of our students by cultivating both character and competence to create global citizens of the 21st century. We equip our students with 21st century life skills and we believe in developing the potential of each child through the theory of Multiple Intelligence propounded by Dr Howard Gardner.
Business View Magazine: What’s the biggest factor that has helped you be successful?
Anjum: “Living in the Twain”-Growing up in the west and living in the east gave me the perspective of both worlds. I grew up in thein US and my marriage brought me to India where I got a platform to understand and bring into education – the best of both worlds.
I have an honours degree in Psychology from Chicago and I was able to use that to help bring neuroscience into education to make learning more “Brain-Compatible”. I believe in learning from everyone I meet. I see myself as a bee gathering nectar from myriad flowers of knowledge and synthesizing them to create the sweet honey of wisdom which I love to share with others.
Business View Magazine: What are your success habits?
Anjum: I believe in being a lifelong learner and I keep developing my own spectrum of human potential across the multiple intelligences. I keep attending courses from Ivy League institutions like Harvard and Stanford and I try to incorporate the learnings in my group of institutions. I love art and each year I try and do an art course from the Art institute of Chicago. I have varied interests and hobbies and have dabbled in Taichi Qigong, yoga, ikebana& scrapbooking. I also love reading and contribute articles to various magazines and journals from time to time. I am also a part of a spiritual book club which I love and grow from. In short, when I nurture learning and enrichment for myself, then for others comes natural.
Business View Magazine: What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization?
Anjum: I focus on the pedagogy which fuels learning and development to help us continuously evolve and to stay ahead of the times. I believe in leadership density and to empower numerous instructional leaders throughout our schools to carry forward the school vision. We have a Strategy in Action Team of Instructional leaders with whom I continually train on a weekly basis and share my learnings which they then trickle down to the faculty. Teacher Training and Development is an area which is very close to my heart and I believe that being a lifelong learner and honing those uniquely human skills is what helps us to differentiate ourselves from artificial intelligence.
Business View Magazine: How do you encourage creative thinking within your organization?
Anjum: Creativity is a very important 21st century skill that differentiates us from Artificial Intelligence. I have attended the Project Zero Course from Harvard and we have installed its “Culture of Thinking” at our group of Institutions. I have also attended a Design Thinking Course from Stanford. At every step we ensure that we give our students and teachers various platforms to express.We have developed a unique Five Strands curriculum for our Visual and Performing Arts with best methodologies from across the world. Harvard’s Project Zero – “Studio Thinking” covers eight habits of mind that can’t be taught in academics alone through our VPA. We have an annual art fest and regular exhibitions on art in a local art gallery that gets our children excited. We have a literary fest for creative writing, elocution, debate and annual theatrical plays to promote drama. We have the Leader in Me Program integrated into our curriculum which encourages students to become proactive leaders and think out of the box for life skills and nurture their creative thinking skills.
Business View Magazine: Which is most important to Glendale Academy—mission, core values or vision?
Anjum: At Glendale our mission, vision and values are integrated and are so intertwined that you cannot separate one from the other. I believe these three are the core of any organization. And each must reinforce the other for only then can there be perfect harmony and synergy.
Business View Magazine: What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
Anjum: Walk your talk! A leader should be a good role model and lead the way through example. As the saying goes, “your talk talks and your walk talks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.” I believe in lifelong learning and I myself lead the way by going the extra mile to develop my own spectrum of intelligences which I aspire to nurture in others.
Business View Magazine: What are the biggest challenge facing female leaders today?
Anjum: The world needs to understand that there is no doubt that we are equal. However, we need to understand that we are not identical nor equivocal. Women are expected to do it all-be the best mother and wife and address all the challenges at work. Juggling multiple roles and responsibilities and to struggle to be taken seriously in a chauvinist driven world can be challenging world-wide. What if we reversed the expectation? What if men had to do it ALL? How would they do? Are they thriving in the areas we thrive?
It has always been an eternal challenge for women leaders to shatter the glass ceiling- to break the mindset that women cannot rise to the challenges of the workplace because of domestic roles and responsibilities. To be soft and empathetic is often considered as a weakness, yet the world needs more of it today. The eternal challenge faced by women leaders is that of balancing the yin and yang.But I feel, men need a dose of yin too!
Business View Magazine: What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
Anjum: Like I mentioned earlier I go the extra mile to develop my spectrum of human potential. I keep upgrading my knowledge from Ivy League institutions and also take interest in various hobbies from art to ikebana to yoga, taichi qigong, from spiritual book clubs to travelling to aromatherapy. I believe in developing leadership density and take the time and effort to mentor others to empower them to carry on even without my presence. I have also authored a book called ABC’s of Brain Compatible Learning which has info nuggets for parents and educators on how to make learning memorable and long lasting! I have also released free YouTube videos on the chapters of my book as a resource available for all to use! These are some of the legacies I have created as a leader to guide others even without my presence!
Business View Magazine: How do you balance work and life responsibilities?
Anjum: Balancing work and life is a continuous challenge for me. But I try to spend quality time with my family. We go on vacations,we try to keep dinner time gadget free so that we can have conversations. Though I am a very active participant in my role as Director-Education, I believe in leadership density and in empowering others to carry on even without my presence. A leader’s job is not just to make his/her presence indispensable but to create future leaders to carry on the legacy. So empowering others and delegating responsibilities gives me the much-needed balance between work and life.
Business View Magazine: What are some of the ways people from your [industry/field] are making a difference in the world?
Anjum: By using education to make a positive difference to the world around us. We, at Glendale we’re the pioneers in incorporating the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) into our curriculum. I was the only person from the entire subcontinent to attend Harvard University’s Think Tank on Global Education in 2017. Within days of returning from there, we were the first school in India to implementthe same immediately in our institutions. Using these goals, we have done a lot of community outreach and also numerous environmental conservation initiatives. These initiatives help sow the seeds of character in our students to help them utilize their competencies effectively and in the right manner.
Business View Magazine: What is your USP that makes Glendale Academy different from the other businesses in similar domains?
Anjum: Glendale develops the full spectrum of human potential. We believe that each child is gifted and unique and “the more ways we teach, the more children we reach.” Glendalepioneered the use of Multiple Intelligence methodology and 21st century skills to develop the potential of each child and to equip them with character and competence to emerge as global citizens of the world.
Business View Magazine: What is the best advice you can give to our readers?
Anjum: Be a lifelong learner and make sure you give back to the world and leave it better than how you found it. In the words of Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Your legacy is every life you have touched. Make sure you leave a great one!