Conversations with Experts - Matthew Raggett, Headmaster, Doon School
Q: What brings you to India?
A: I have worked in several countries and I am fascinated to learn about people in places and as my children were getting older, we were looking for a bit interesting place. I wanted the craziness. The complexity that India offers is a beautiful blend. Also it would be a change in culture. Some schools in India are for profit making schools, so it had to be the right school. Then Doon came up and I took the offer.
Q: Since you have worked in different countries, where do you think they have built better schools?
A: There are so many examples. There are great schools here too. But I think Germany where I worked for 7 years has very good schools; like we heard in Finland schools are good too. I have worked in Singapore for 4 years, there are some great schools but memory testing and rote learning is prevalent and there is a culture of competition, which is not very attractive. Like we are dropping the ICSE board and taking Cambridge, as it invites the children to think.
Q: Speaking in Indian context, is it important to build better schools in urban or rural India?
A: I think in this country it really starts from teacher training. Who cares where you built school, if you are not showing how to equip teachers which is the key to maintaining democracy. Then you built schools and put great teachers in them, it is the biggest investment that matters –as in the biggest investment should be in the teachers not the structure etc.
Q: What in your opinion is an ideal 21ist century school?
A: To work collaboratively with students, well trained teachers, enough to be trusted. The notion of competing and reaching university should not be the aim. I have great deal of respect for the liberal art colleges which find the link between the potential of a student and the college.