Indonesia Expat
Education Lifestyle

Bandung Independent School: Preparing Children for the Future

The World Economic Forum has estimated that 65 percent of children in school today will eventually work in careers that don’t even exist yet. “It’s our job to prepare them for this future,” says Bandung Independent School’s Head of School, Mr. Chris Toomer, “not only to be leaders in the workplace and their communities, but to also thrive as individuals and global citizens.”

“BIS is offering an education experience that is fundamentally different than any other school in the area. While most schools understand the importance of IQ (Intelligence Quotient), and a few are genuinely working to develop students’ EQ (Emotional Quotient), BIS is also nurturing its children’s AQ (Adaptability Quotient). In an uncertain future, a fundamental key to success will be adaptability – the motivation and ability to learn new skills quickly and independently, make creative connections across traditional disciplines, and have the strength of character to continually fail and grow.”

An International Baccalaureate World School since 2002, BIS teachers design inquiry-based provocations that put their students at the center of the learning process. “Learning at BIS is driven by student curiosity and thus enables students to develop their individual passions and talents. Schools still focused primarily on testing and ranking students based on their ability to memorise and regurgitate facts are doing their pupils a disservice”, says Mr. Toomer. “The traditional system of drilling children for standardised tests and national exams is already obsolete, and bears little connection to the skills needed in the modern world. At BIS, we’re focused on developing our students’ positive attitudes toward learning first. A child who learns because she loves it – not because she is afraid of a bad grade – will grow into an adult who continually learns and improves herself and those around her.”

A former international school student himself (Hong Kong International School), Chris has learned firsthand the importance of adaptability and lifelong learning. After completing his undergraduate degrees at Northwestern University, he worked as a Strategy Consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers. The realisation that his heart was better suited for education rather than business led him to teaching, and eventually roles as a Vice Principal and Principal. After completing his Master’s degree at the Harvard Kennedy School, Chris led a group of eight international schools as Academic Director, and ran an IB World School just outside New York City before joining Bandung Independent School in July of 2017.

“The best part of working at BIS is the amazing community. We’re a truly supportive group of families and teachers hailing from 24 different countries, right here in the heart of Bandung. When visitors stop by BIS, they are struck not only by the surprising scale and greenery of our (1.3 hectare) urban campus, but also by the diversity and warmth of our students, parents, and teachers that greet them.”

As a non-profit school overseen by a parent Board, BIS exists to serve its community, integrating volunteer work as a core part of its student programs. The parent Board, along with Mr. Toomer and community stakeholders, have identified several priorities for continual improvement in their 2020 strategic plan. A top priority is to extend the successes of the BIS Class of 2018, which averaged the highest IB Diploma scores in Indonesia, and placed nearly two-thirds of its graduates at top 200 global universities. “BIS wants to offer its graduates the world,” says Mr. Toomer. “However, the path they choose should be entirely up to them.”

BIS has expanded its commitment to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) programming through creative opportunities such as coding, robotics, and a new makerspace, and is one of the few schools in Indonesia offering IB Diploma courses in Visual Arts and Music. Also, as some schools around the world de-emphasise second language programs, BIS is doubling down, offering Indonesian, Chinese, French, and Korean to its students. “The research on the benefits of true bilingualism are clear. It’s not only about communication. It’s about empathy, internationalism, and neuroplasticity. The change makers of the future must not only understand their own values, but be genuinely attuned to the values of those around them.”

Bandung Independent School

Jl. Prof. Drg. Surya Sumantri No. 61 Bandung
West Java, Indonesia
Phone : +62 22 2014995

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