Schools Must Be Grounded in Thriving Relationships: New Narratives 1 | Benjamin Freud, Ph.D. | 13 Min Read

July 27, 2022

Quantum physicist Werner Heisenberg wrote, “What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.” I think the same can be said about what we look for in our students, it’s all about the questions we ask.

When you pose the question “What are the skills and mindsets that students need to thrive in our ever-changing world?” you’ve already framed the answers. I’ve gone through the portraits of a graduate of dozens of schools and it seems like they all drew from the same hat of fewer than 20 words. A graduate should be some combination of resilient, adaptable, responsible, a learner, an effective communicator, innovative, collaborative, creative, a critical thinker, ethical, a global citizen, etc. I’m sure these schools all went through a rigorous process of engaging community members in discussion to come up with their vision of which “knowledge, skills, mindsets, and literacies [are] essential for 21st-century student success.” So did all the schools that have portraits but don’t call them such, schools that want to cultivate the 4, 5, or 6 Cs that are just the same story. I use the term portrait as a catch-all…

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Benjamin Freud, Ph.D.

Benjamin Freud, Ph.D. is the co-founder of Coconut Thinking, an advisory that supports schools and learning organizations to co-create, co-develop, co-stress test, and co-implement ideas that nurture the conditions for emergent learning. Benjamin is also the Head of Upper School at Green School, Bali. He was previously the Whole School Leader of Learning and Teaching at Prem Tinsulanonda International School in Thailand. He was the Academic Coordinator at Misk Schools, one of the most prestigious and high-profile school in the kingdom. In 2018-2019, he was also the Head of Upper Primary and Middle School at Misk. Prior to this, he was Vice-Principal of the Middle School and High School at the Harbour School in Hong Kong. He holds a Ph.D. in History, an MSc in Education, an MBA, an MA in International Relations, and a BA in International Affairs. Benjamin was born and grew up in Paris, France. He moved to the U.S. when he was 15 and spent 11 years there in different cities before living in the U.K., Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and now Bali, Indonesia. He started his career in consulting for Internet start-ups in Silicon Valley in the late 1990s, working with people whose ambitions were no less than to change the world. This experience had a profound effect on Benjamin's outlook on education, innovation, and entrepreneurship.