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Arun Kapur: We Need To Be The Wind Beneath Students' Wings


Arun Kapur is an educator with over 40 years experience. Kapur is the Director of The Royal Academy in Bhutan, a holistic K12 education initiative of His Majesty the King of Bhutan that refocuses the curriculum to address 5 key areas of development. 5 Areas Of Development was selected as one of HundrED's 100 Global Inspiring Innovations.

Please introduce yourself and your innovation 

I’m a school teacher as I have been now for forty years, exactly forty years in fact. In the school journey I was spending a lot of my time, increasing amounts of time, with children outside the formal school system. That’s where the fun was actually in many, many ways. So when I was in Delhi I was working with young, emerging adults inside a jail and they were my best teachers actually, I learned so much from them. Schooling all over the world only looks at mostly cerebral and physical development, while in actuality what you need to do outside in the world is use your social, emotional and spiritual dimensions too.

So it is in school that you need to develop all 5 areas of your development, right? If your curriculum is not looking at those 5 areas, you’re growing half and you can’t really do that. They all need to have the same equal focus, you can be really high on the cerebral side, not so high on another, so we know where to pitch in and how to help you get up, like we do with your maths or physics - if you’re not doing so well in maths we help you with that. Here we look at all 5 Areas of Development and it’s highly personalized and individualized.

The other thing we’ve done is to move away from content and made it processed based. ‘How’ to learn is much more important than ‘what’ to learn, because ‘what’ keeps changing. So, if I come out of my education programme based on my content and the content becomes obsolete, then I become obsolete! Whereas, on the other hand, if i’ve learned how to learn… that’s the whole basis of 5 Areas of Development.

We use the word education, the meaning of educate is to lead out, to bring out the best in you, that’s where the word come from. So that’s our end goal always, to help you become the best you that only you can be. It’s not static, it’s dynamic and therefore we need to make sure we create an environment where all of us are learning and I don’t know whether its an innovation, I think it’s just a common sense way of doing things that I’ve learned from various ideas.

The magic bullet to this actually was His Majesty The King Of Bhutan who, when he heard about this, he brought in his wisdom, he’s young, he’s 35 years old, but his wisdom is way beyond. So we’re actually in many ways implementing a lot of things that he has brought to the picture and therefore we are able to do this and we’re able to make sure it is designed in such a way that it can flourish in different physical or geographical environments, it’s not just built for this one place.

What should the next 100 years of education look like? 

Oh, well! The thing is, since time immemorial we’ve had rites of passage, growing up, going from children to adults. That’s not going to change, there will always be rites of passage. I think what we’ve done over the years is outsourced this whole rites of passage aspect to something called schools. I think together the adults need to be part of this rites of passage much more than they have been. There’s been almost a professional divide between parenting and schooling and that needs to disappear or merge a little more. In the next 100 years we should work together, to help each other become better.

The fact that adults think they have the answers, that has to go! I think the reverse almost needs to come into play, we need to look at the emerging adults and think how can we help them to make their worlds much better? That’s the important thing, we need to be the wind beneath their wings rather than being the wings for them.

In the next 100 years, it’s this collaboration with the adults, almost taking a back seat in some way, just to be there, that I’d love to see. I’d love to see an environment where all work together as equals in some way to bring out the best in each other, that for me would be a great moment.


For more information, including steps to implement the 5 Areas of Development approach in your school, visit the innovation page.