Asian Correspondent » Woodstock School Asian Correspondent Fri, 03 Jul 2015 10:16:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Why is college prep so important at Woodstock School? Fri, 19 Apr 2013 06:25:13 +0000
College prep presentation at Woodstock School by LASALLE College of the Arts

College prep presentation at Woodstock School by LASALLE College of the Arts

College prep is an important part of the Woodstock experience, because the majority of our graduates end up in universities and colleges across the globe.

Woodstock’s college counsellor Renee Bowling is the first point of contact for students seeking advice about university admissions and college life, and there are frequent visits to Woodstock from institutions around the globe seeking to attract our high calibre students to their particular college.

The Class of 2013 alone has had a total of 80 college and university visit the school, while four college fairs have been tentatively booked for the Fall.

Mrs Bowling explained why these college visits are so important:

  • They provide a sense of the college culture and feel to students who are unable to visit the campus.
  • They offer opportunities for our students to ask questions about majors, campus life, and financial aid.
  • They allow Woodstock to develop relationships with university admission officers.

She added: “The counselling department at Woodstock provides workshops, resources, and individual college counselling to students in Grade 11 and 12 to help prepare them for the range of choices available to them.”

Last week a group from LASALLE College of the Arts in Singapore came to Woodstock. Their presentation was aimed at encouraging students to pursue arts management, a discipline perhaps not always thought of by students.

They explained that while many students want to be involved in the arts as an upfront performer, there is also a huge need for people to be involved in arts management behind the scenes to enable arts events to take place.

Arts management students at Lasalle are trained in business, communications, marketing, PR and legal issues, to prepare them for roles such as event organisers, theatre managers or art development officers.

They also stressed that the arts market is a growth area with new theatres, museums and art galleries springing up in many Asian countries.

Woodstock’s strong enrichment programme with its focus on drama and music is an excellent tool for college prep, and this particular degree. As well as having opportunities to act and perform regularly, there are also multiple opportunities for students to stage manage and be involved in planning events behind the scenes.


]]> 22
Making Music in the Mountains at Woodstock Fri, 15 Mar 2013 09:05:27 +0000
Jessie Huang making music in the mountains at Woodstock School

Jessie Huang making music in the mountains at Woodstock School

Piano teacher Jessie Huang is believed to be the first-ever Taiwanese teacher at Woodstock.

The 31-year-old comes with a rich pedigree in piano playing, having spent seven years doing postgraduate studies in the United States, firstly gaining a Masters of Music in Piano Performance at the University of Maryland, before achieving a doctorate of Musical Art and Piano Performance at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC.

On arriving at Woodstock, Jessie was unsure how well-resourced a school in an Indian hill station would be. However, she was pleasantly surprised how well-equipped the music department was, both in terms of sheet music and instruments, and has quickly adjusted to life here in the foothills of the Himalaya, enjoying playing music in the mountains.

Having studied in an international community in the US, she enjoys the similar diverse environment here at Woodstock. This has proved to have many benefits, she explains:

“The other day, I was teaching a student a piece by Liszt, which is based on a sonnet by the Italian poet Petrarch. This student couldn’t understand the sonnet, but she asked an Italian student to help her translate it. Because of our international diversity, we are not limited to just one language in the classroom!”

She finds most of the Woodstock students highly motivated, which she says is infectious and rubs off on those children who aren’t so enthusiastic about music. She also loves the fact that Woodstock is a community of lifelong learners.

“The Woodstock atmosphere encourages both students and teachers always be learning and developing, and being here has encouraged me to keep practising and learning more about the piano.”

Jessie’s favourite composers are Mozart (with whom she shares a birthday), Mendelssohn and Rachmaninoff. She now considers herself the “pianist on the mountain” and is very much enjoying her time at Woodstock.

Watch Jessie playing music in the mountains at the recent staff recital, a performance of Piano Sonata No 2, Op 75 by Alexander Glazunov.

]]> 0
Music is Math at Woodstock! Fri, 08 Mar 2013 09:25:35 +0000
Music is Math at Woodstock

Mr Conrad and Ms Boyd show how Music is Math at Woodstock

When I was a kid in the UK, I dropped Math at the earliest opportunity after scraping a B in my GCSE examination. Last week, I went to my first Math lesson in about 20 years, and I really enjoyed it!

One of the joys of working in the communications department at Woodstock School is that I have a free rein to drop into lessons now and then to see what’s going on. It’s great fun going back into the classroom and seeing some of the many interesting and innovative teaching techniques that are being used. Lessons here seem so much more fun than my school experience in the UK!

In the lesson I went to Math teacher Zach Conrad was teaching the class about sound waves, and perhaps somewhat surprisingly, band teacher Lindsay Boyd was there with her French horn, as well as choir teacher Abe Okie. But actually this “cross fertilisation” of the Math and Music department made perfect sense. There are many scientific and mathematical aspects to music, and I soon discovered Music is Math in many ways!

In the lesson Ms Boyd played her French horn and used it to demonstrate harmonic and inharmonic overtones. We discussed loudness, pitch, tone, what is a frequency, and why a sound is different on different instruments. The two Music teachers used their practical expertise and experience to help the students understand the science and mathematics of sound, which were mapped out in various graphs on the board.

I’d be lying if I said I understood everything that went on in the lesson – it has been two decades – but I love the fact that staff from two seemingly disparate departments came together to combine their knowledge to enhance the learning experience.

Teachers at Woodstock are keen to promote this broad view of education which crosses the boundaries between subjects, away from the traditional, and sometimes artificial compartmentalisation of academic subjects, which does not always reflect real life.

Only in Woodstock would you find the French horn being played in a Math lesson. Read more about how our academic programmes and how Music is Math, and vice versa, at Woodstock.

Ed Beavan





]]> 0
The Impelling Principle and Experiential Education at Woodstock School Tue, 05 Mar 2013 08:58:29 +0000
Treks are part of the Experiential Education programme at Woodstock School
Treks are part of the Experiential Education programme at Woodstock School


Every week Woodstock Principal Dr Jonathan Long shares thoughts with the staff community in the weekly bulletin publication.

Recently he focused on the theme of “The Impelling Principle in Education”, based on the work of educational visionary and philosopher Kurt Hahn, founder of Outward Bound movement and Round Square, which Woodstock School has recently affiliated to.

The article particularly looks at this principle in the context of outdoor education as a means to help children become critical thinkers and learners on their own, through this form of experiential education.

The piece provoked some interesting feedback from alumnus TZ Chu ’52, which is included underneath Dr Long’s piece below. He focuses particularly on the differences in the hiking programme from his own time at Woodstock and now.

The Impelling Principle in Education
by Dr Jonathan Long 

Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness;
but direct them to it by what amuses their minds. 

In 1965, Kurt Hahn, founder of Outward Bound, United World Colleges, several schools and The International Award for Young People, delivered an important address in which he introduced a critical concept in education. Hahn made the following point:

I was once interviewed by a journalist. He asked me: “How can the methods you believe in do justice to the indoor-type?” He was horrified when I said, “by chasing him outside.” Then there was another journalist who said “How can you do justice to the introvert?” I answered: “By providing circumstances which turn him inside out.” And a third one wondered how we deal with the extrovert. My answer shocked him: “By turning him outside in.” Let me define, in general terms, the conviction which is behind these answers. It is the sin of the soul to force young people into opinions – indoctrination is of the devil – but it is culpable neglect not to impel young people into experience.

One of Hahn’s most valuable insights was to recognise the distinction for education between compelling and impelling. To compel is to force – it is to exert an external pressure. To impel is to allow the motivating force to come from within – not from without. As Hahn put it, “The aim of education is to impel young people into value forming experiences.” When the motivating energy to engage in these experiences originates from within the individual, an opportunity for learning exists which is rarely found in the presence of compulsion.

The distinction between compelling and impelling may be a subtle one but it is certainly not an easy one. Hahn was writing within the context of outdoor education (one form of experiential education) where the opportunity of accepting or declining a challenge seems both natural and obvious – as does the idea of impelling young people into an experience. The way in which the Outdoor Education Long Weekend was presented by Outdoor Educator Andrew Hepworth at assembly fits perfectly within the approach described by Hahn – allowing young people to enter into value-forming experiences with what I would call “choicefulness” and self-direction.

In the classroom and elsewhere, the compelling/impelling distinction is harder to sustain – but it is not beyond our grasp. Reliable wisdom says we should always begin from where young people are at and not from where we want them to be. But it is also about awakening the deep innate curiosities of the human spirit – releasing a powerful impetus for self-motivated learning which is the birth-right of the human being.   Adam Robinson, co-founder of The Princeton Review, hit the nail on the head when he wrote:

Our school system is based on the notion of passive students that must be “taught” if they are to learn. . . . Our country spends tens of billions of dollars each year not just giving students a second-rate education, but at the same time actively preventing them from getting an education on their own. And I’m angry at how school produces submissive students with battered egos. Most students have no idea of the true joys of learning, and of how much they can actually achieve on their own.

Can we apply an “impelling principle” to what happens at Woodstock – and not just in our approaches to outdoor education? The answer to this question will take us down a path well-travelled and in the company of many others besides Kurt Hahn. It will also transcend some of the divides between western and eastern approaches to education and include many sources of inspiration and guidance – Rousseau, Fröbel, Pestalozzi, Steiner and Dewey to name but a few. And Maria Montessori of course, whose belief in the reality of this impelling principle was beautifully summed up when she wrote, “The greatest sign of success for a teacher… is to be able to say, ‘The children are now working as if I did not exist.”

Response from TZ Chu ’52:

When I attended Woodstock from 1949 through 1952, Woodstock had not heard of Kurt Hahn but it was very much a Kurt Hahn school. No one talked about outdoor education but every bit of Woodstock revolved around the outdoor.

Long distance hiking was the most respected sport at Woodstock; one was awarded a large “W” if he or she was able to hike to Tehri and back within 48 hours. Dr Bob Fleming Sr was the High School Supervisor and our biology teacher. His Indian and Nepali fern and bird collections remain premier exhibits at Chicago Natural History Museum, and we learned to recognise and collect at least 40 species of ferns and learn to properly stuff and conserve the birds he shot and collected.

The boys all had private collections of beetles (I don’t know about the girls) and Mussoorie is or used to be one of the most important centres of butterflies in the world, as told to me by the curator (and a Kodai graduate) of Los Angles Natural History Museum. Many boys owned a 12-guage shotgun and hunted deer and pheasants for food during weekends because food was in such short supply (we were then only four to five years out of the Partition).

The dorms emptied during weekends and school breaks because almost everybody was out hiking and camping either alone, in small groups, with or without teachers or vacationing parents. Self-sufficiency was presumed and the older ones taught the younger ones (going home to the parents was out of the question given the state of the transportation). I learned more about nature in these four years than I ever had before or since, and perhaps that impelled me to major in physical science in college.

What do you think on this subject on the impelling principle? Do you think outdoor education is important? Join the debate on experiential education, or email


]]> 0
Guiding Principles and “hedgehogs” at Woodstock School Fri, 22 Feb 2013 09:46:21 +0000
Woodstock School Principal Dr Jonathan Long

Woodstock School Principal, Dr Jonathan Long, explains why “hedgehogs” are so important for the development of the school.

The philosopher, Isaiah Berlin, once wrote a short story based on an ancient Greek parable entitled The Hedgehog and the Fox. In this tale, Berlin suggested that the whole world is divided into ‘hedgehogs’ and ‘foxes’. The fox is a cunning animal, able to pursue many ends at the same time. Day by day, the fox devises complex strategies to attack the hedgehog.

By contrast, the hedgehogs have one, single unifying idea – a concept which guides everything they do. They waddle along going about their daily tasks, looking for food and taking care of their young. When danger threatens, the hedgehog applies the same single strategy with ruthless success by rolling up into a spiky ball!

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, a business book which carefully analyses why good companies transform into great companies, uses Berlin’s fable to explain a key element of this success. The hedgehog’s strategy implies the continued sharp focus on what is essential – they understand that the essence of insight is simplicity.

Collins applied this observation to his analysis of great companies. He concludes that those who built the good-to-great companies were, to one degree or another, hedgehogs. They used their commitment to simple and clarifying concepts to overcome complexity.

Woodstock is in a process of transformation – we are moving from fox-like strategy towards hedgehog-mentality. What are some of the “hedgehogs”, or, which are being fed at Woodstock right now?  Let me name a few:

  • Clarifying the fundamentals of our underlying philosophy of education.
  • Raising scholarships to enable us to recruit for student diversity.
  • Adapting schedulestimetables and student residential arrangements to better support our vision for the education of young people.
  • Building a robust and relevant curriculum to support our Desired learning Outcomes.
  • Changing approaches to fee-setting, financial aid and financial management so we can pay decent salaries.
  • Targeting effective recruitment and retention so we can build strength and depth in our community.

I hope we will soon be able to develop a set of Guiding Principles which will inform decision making in all areas of school life.   Together with our strategic plan and vision, these principles will provide a vital reference point in the development of policy and practice.

Some years after writing Good to Great, Jim Collins penned a small monograph entitled, Good to Great and the Social Sectors. In this insightful little book, and based on in-depth research, Collins makes the point that many in the not for profit sector obsess on systemic constraints as reasons for not moving forward.

Here at Woodstock, we have some systemic constraints – but Collins’ thoughtful conclusion cuts to the crux – “greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice and discipline.”

We have chosen the “hedgehogs” we are going to care for. Now we need to sustain the discipline and single-mindedness to nurture them to maturity and greatness!

Read Dr Long’s philosophy of education, Eliciting Greatness here

]]> 0
Why is educating the “whole child” so important? Fri, 15 Feb 2013 11:02:51 +0000
Students trekking at Woodstock, part of the "whole child" educational experience

Students trekking at Woodstock, part of the "whole child" educational experience

“Education requires the balanced development of the whole person.” So says Woodstock Principal Dr Jonathan Long in his educational philosophy, entitled Eliciting Greatness.

To achieve this balance, Dr Long says an approach to education that “encourages an integrated development of potential across a range of dimensions, including the spiritual, academic, moral, aesthetic, emotional, social and physical” is necessary.

So why is this focus on developing and educating the “whole person” or “whole child” so important?

  • The answer is that students who engage in a range of environments and experiences are far far better equipped to face the challenges of “real life” when they graduate.
  • This means education is not just learning facts in the classroom, but a holistic experience including critical thinking, drama, sport, outdoor education, music, and other areas where students can pursue their passions.
  • This more rounded educational experience was pioneered by Kurt Hahn, founder of Round Square, an organisation Woodstock has recently become affiliated to.

In order to develop the “whole child” Woodstock students are encouraged to get involved in these activities which have been traditionally known as extra curricular, but which at Woodstock we like to call curriculum with a capital “C” or enrichment.

This is because they are a vital part of the core curriculum and help enrich a student’s life, and are not just an added-on extra.

This semester for the first time we have appointed a Dean of Enrichment, Bethany Okie, to give shape and form to the enrichment programme (known as the PASSAGE programme) so students can have even better opportunities to pursue this holistic educational experience.

And this idea of developing the whole person is not just limited to students. Part of the Woodstock’s 2020 Vision Statement is that we invest in professional development for our staff, and that we are a community of “lifelong learners”.  We are keen to develop a community where all staff, whether teachers or administrative, continue to grow and learn, be that through an online course or sitting in on a class during the school day.

Staff also get involved in a wide range of experiences that are available in our locality to help with this holistic development. They can go on hikes in our beautiful Himalayan environment, get involved in drama (we have just had an awesome staff musical), join the staff band or one of the student orchestras, or help lead an enrichment activity which they are passionate about.

Read Dr Long’s educational philosophy which incorporates the idea on developing the “whole child“.

]]> 1
Encouraging Community Growth Through Drama Tue, 05 Feb 2013 11:19:55 +0000
You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown poster at Woodstock School

You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown poster at Woodstock

For the first time in more than a decade Woodstock faculty are performing a large scale staff show.

I have been loving the experience of being in a drama production for the first time in about 20 years, under the direction of the school’s new Dean of Enrichment and professional actress Bethany Okie.

The show we are performing is the musical You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, based on the Peanuts cartoon strip by Charles M Schulz, and premiered in New York in 1967. It has since appeared on Broadway and in London’s West End.

The international cast is made up of 16 staff members from four different countries; India, the US, the UK and New Zealand. The cast is also a good cross section of the school’s staff base, with nine teaching staff, three dorm parents and four administrative staff involved.

But how is this related to community growth, you might be thinking? Well, the staging of the production is a huge endeavour. Although it’s the actors on stage who will take much of the glory, the musical could never take place if it wasn’t for the whole school community rallying round to help.

  • Math teachers and master craftsmen Zach Conrad and Paul Morrill, assisted by parent Craig Wiggins, have done a superb job creating the set in just over a week.
  • Learning assistance teacher Mike Pesavento and his daughter Juliana have worked tirelessly on the lighting and sound for the show. English teacher Paul Roberts has done voice coaching, junior school teachers Kim Ferguson and Anjali Sharma have made props. Judy Crider, on the recruitment team at Woodstock, has taken on the role as stage manager.
  • A band consisting of music teacher Jessie Huang (keyboards), journalism teacher Chris Rhatigan (bass), and student Sohail Das (drums) have come together at short notice to master the show’s songs.
  • Other staff members, parents and students have helped paint the set, bought props in the bazaar, and assisted with numerous other mundane jobs for the show. I’m sorry I am not able to publicly acknowledge everyone here.

Quite simply, without the community coming together giving their time and energy for free for this show, it could never take place. The musical highlights how something like a play can bring out the best in the community, all pulling together to reach a common goal.

Encouraging community growth is part of Woodstock’s 2020 Vision statement, “to explore models for community growth which promote growth across cultures and ages”, and this has certainly been achieved in putting on this play.

While the actors will take the acclaim after the show, as much credit must go to all those who worked so hard behind the scenes to make it happen.

Why not check out how you can get involved in community growth at Woodstock by looking at our job vacancies online?

Ed Beavan, Communications Associate, Woodstock School



]]> 0
Does music education in schools matter? Thu, 27 Dec 2012 04:00:15 +0000
Music education in schools at Woodstock

The Advanced Choir at Woodstock School

I was privileged enough to attend a series of three Fall concerts last semester at Woodstock, which showcased the extraordinary musical talent at the school.

The concerts featured performances by the junior, intermediate and advanced bands, orchestras and choirs. The chamber acapella singing group also performed, along with the Junior School Tiger percussion ensemble and strings group, and the Orff Club.

Some of the highlights over the three evenings were the advanced choir’s spine-tingling performance of O Fortuna from Carmina Burana, and their uplifting performance of African Allelluia by Benjamin Harlan, which they also repeated in the Christmas Chapel.

A South Korean student Ein also played beautifully Weber’s Concerto for Clarinet, accompanied by the advanced orchestra. I thought the concerts were a glowing testament to the hard work put in by students and music faculty over the semester.

But why is it that music is such an important part of the curriculum offered at Woodstock? Does music education in schools really matter?

Abe Okie is the choir director and AP music theory teacher at Woodstock. He praised all the students who took part in the concerts, and explained the reasons behind the prominence of music at the school:

  • Music is such an integral part of the Woodstock curriculum as it teaches discipline, focus, critical thinking, listening and motor skills, and emotional expression.
  •  There’s a plethora of studies which demonstrate that music education correlates closely to academic and social success. High school students who play an instrument or sing consistently in a choir perform better in SATs, earn better grades, and receive more awards.
  • There are health benefits. For example, some studies focused on the elderly found involvement with music reduces depression, anxiety, and delays dementia.
  • There’s a substantial body of evidence which indicates that music education delivered in the early years improves spatial-temporal intelligences which in turn boost maths learning skills.
  • Music concerts and learning are a chance for our students to encounter really great musical works of art from the past 500 years or so.

So there you have it. Evidence that as well as being a fun activity and a new skill to learn, music education in schools offers so many all round benefits to a student. So as a parent maybe it is a good idea to get your child on track to learn how to play violin or another instrument.

Read more about the music education on offer at Woodstock.

]]> 0
Why is Outdoor Learning so Important for a Holistic Education? Thu, 20 Dec 2012 11:00:55 +0000


Outdoor education, part of the holistic education on offer at Woodstock School

Outdoor education, part of the holistic education on offer at Woodstock School

While most Woodstock Senior School students were hard at work with exams at the end of term, Grade 7 students went off exploring their environment, themselves, and new ways of learning through an experiential approach to education.

Experiential Education professor Salvatore Vascellaro stresses that for learning to occur in its fullest sense, a palette of rich, interdisciplinary, and frequently kinesthetic experiences directed at a topic of study is necessary.

Take for example a simple dragonfly larva: What if you were to find it living in its cold stream environment whilst having to move along the stream with cold and wet feet, develop observation skills and create a detailed sketch that brings it to life, be responsible for keeping that sketch pegged to your clothing for a number of days, and have to create a theatre performance based on life after the steam for the dragonfly larva?

This is one example of the projects the students worked on during the recent Grade 7 trip to Deolsari Forest in the foothills of the Himalayas for a three-day and two-night wilderness residential programme.

But why is outdoor education such an important part of the holistic education we seek to offer here?

  • It brings together many subject areas including biology and field study, theatre and art as well as incorporating the personal, social and environmental development aims more traditionally associated with outdoor learning.
  • It is a great introduction for students to experience our local environment and spend time outdoors, developing outdoor skills.
  • It encourages students to take account of human activity in the area through engaging with the villagers by asking questions.
  • It challenges students physically and sheds light on building awareness for ecological living.
  • It throws up discussions of all kinds such as having to live together in unfamiliar and less comfortable conditions, the pros and cons of living with or without a television, without internet access, and the benefits of being away from the technical world.

Below are some reflections provided by the grade 7 students when asked to indicate the difference between indoor and outdoor learning from their own experiences:

“When we were outdoors together we are more able to have discussions with our teachers and friends, I was never bored; this is different to indoor education where you have to sit down and not go anywhere, the outdoors gave me more freedom to roam around and explore.” Suryansh, Grade 7 (Team: Water Boatman)

Being outdoors I was able to work with new students such as the day students and I discovered what a Caddis Fly larva was by actually experiencing it, I got to understand it better this way, it was different to watching a video about it or being shown a book about it in school” Tanuj, Grade 7 (Team: Caddis Fly)

Andrew Hepworth Outdoor Educator – Hanifl Centre 

Read more about our outdoor education programme at Woodstock.

]]> 0
Man and Mountains: Living in the Shadow of the Himalayas Mon, 03 Dec 2012 10:12:29 +0000
Loveraj Singh is honoured by Woodstock Principal Dr Jonathan Long

Loveraj Singh is honoured by Woodstock Principal Dr Jonathan Long PHURIWAT CHIRAPHISIT

I believe one of the best things about Woodstock School is its unique mountain location.

Unlike many international schools in the country which are in big cities, Woodstock is set in the foothills of the Himalayas in one of the most beautiful natural environments I’ve ever had the joy to live in.

At this time of year I regularly glimpse the snowpeaks when out on walks on the chukkar, or see the stunning Winterline, a false horizon during sunset of stunning orange and mauve hues.

In early November a number of world-renowned mountaineers, writers, poets, musicians and artists came to the school to take part in the fifth Mussoorie Writers Festival, which this year was entitled Experience the Himalaya. Many students attended the festival, linking into the theme of outdoor education which is so important for the holistic education we seek to offer.

It was a fantastic weekend as many of the participants shared their experiences in the Himalaya and other mountain ranges around the world.

One question that kept returning was what draws man to the mountains? Why is it these mountaineers continue to risk life and limb to try and conquer another peak? Why is it that so many of us feel so at home in and have a such a strong connection with the mountains?

One of India’s foremost climbers, Loveraj Singh Dharmshaktu, appeared at the festival, and answered some of these questions in an interview which featured in an India special of the international newspaper the Financial Times.

In the piece, the mountaineer who hails from Uttarakhand gives some answers as to why climbers go to such extremes to scale such heights. His answers, and some of the thoughts shared at the festival, were:

  • Climbers are motivated by the challenge of a new peak and discovering new routes
  • They build teamwork and find out who their real friends are during ascents
  • The feeling of oneness with the natural environment when out in the mountains, and the spiritual connection with mountains, is a huge factor in doing what they do
  • They revel in the physical beauty of the mountain environment
  • Being in the mountains is a way to get away from the monotony of the day-to-day life and to stretch yourself

Most of us can probably relate to at least one of these points, and it is the ongoing connection between man and mountain that continues to attract so many of us back to the Himalayas year after year, and make it such a privilege for those of us that live here.

Read the interview with Loveraj Singh in the Financial Times

]]> 1
The Dalai Lama at Woodstock: what is the art of happiness? Wed, 21 Nov 2012 11:18:43 +0000
Dalai Lama shares the art of happiness at Woodstock School

Dalai Lama shares the art of happiness at Woodstock School PHOTO: PHURIWAT CHIRAPHISIT

The devastation caused by torrential downpours in the Uttarkarshi district of Uttarakhand, not far from Mussoorie, made me realise how fragile life can be.

Around 30 people were reported to have been killed by the natural disaster, while hundreds of people lost their homes.

Although I do not know the people affected by the flash flooding personally, I am linked to them through our shared common humanity, which is a theme which repeatedly came up in the 14th Dalai Lama’s visit to Woodstock School earlier this semester.

This shared humanity caused many of us to give money to a relief fund for victims of the disaster in Uttarkashi.

As well as this theme that we as human beings we have more that unite us than divides us, His Holiness also answered a number of questions asked by students and staff, on a range of subjects including “What is hope” and “What is the art of happiness?”

His responses to the questions were varied:

  • He reminded us we are guilty of forgetting “we are fundamentally human beings and brothers and sisters”.
  • He stressed people should not be divided in today’s globalised economy, as “we’re the same people; national boundaries and religious differences are not important”.
  • The Nobel Peace Prize winner urged the audience to act with compassion and forgiveness, whether this was motivated by religious faith or a common humanity.
  • He warned the audience to take the issue of global warming seriously, which would affect future generations.
  • He urged students and staff at Woodstock School to remember their common humanity rather than seeing difference in religion or nationality.

The key to the art of happiness he said was to think positively about life, turn away from envy and bitterness which eats you up inside, and be thankful.

Watch and like this Facebook video showing the Dalai Lama at Woodstock School.

]]> 11
Woodstock featured in Financial Times magazine Mon, 19 Nov 2012 23:01:47 +0000 Browser Cookie Problem

It appears your browser is blocking cookies from this site. This means you will most likely have difficulty logging in and maintaining a user session. Please check your browser settings to enable cookie support before proceeding.


Browser Cookie Problem

It appears your browser is blocking cookies from this site. This means you will most likely have difficulty logging in and maintaining a user session. Please check your browser settings to enable cookie support before proceeding.

Continue reading:  

Woodstock featured in Financial Times magazine

]]> 0
Student Diversity in Drama Tue, 13 Nov 2012 10:16:36 +0000
A banquet scene in Woodstock's Macbeth production

A banquet scene in Woodstock's Macbeth production PHURIWAT CHIRAPHISIT PHOTOGRAPHY

Excellence in drama has always been one of Woodstock’s great strengths, and is a key part of the school’s enrichment programme, which seeks to develop the whole child through the arts, music and outdoor exploration.

In the last year alone under the expert direction of Bethany Okie, a professional actress from the United States and Woodstock’s drama teacher, the school has pulled off three extremely ambitious theatrical performances; the musical Brigadoon, Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, and just last week, a compelling production of  Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which left audiences enthralled.

As well as showcasing students’ acting talents and providing opportunities for others to get trained up in areas such as the stage crew or audio-visual team, these productions are an interesting barometer of the international diversity we strive for at Woodstock.

A cursory look at the Macbeth programme shows students in the cast and stage managing team came from no less than ten different nations, including Australia, Kenya, the US, Nepal, the Netherlands, South Korea, and of course India.

The student that played Lady Macbeth is half Indian, half French; while another actor who played King Duncan and two other parts in the play is Dutch but considers himself Indian as he moved to the subcontinent at a young age.

These “third culture kids” are often the type of students who come to Woodstock and thrive in the diverse international culture that exists at the school.

A strong mix of nationalities is vital for the school to maintain its aim of being a “microcosm of the world” and prepare students for the challenges and opportunities offered in today’s world which is more and more a global village, and where this experience of living in a diverse environment can only be beneficial.

The next theatrical production is a staff production of You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, with an equally diverse cast, with teachers from India, the US, the UK and New Zealand taking part.

If it’s even half as good as the student productions, it will be epic!

Read a report of Woodstock ‘s Macbeth production here


]]> 1
All hail Yale at Woodstock Tue, 12 Jun 2012 08:54:30 +0000
Bhavenesh and Priyankar under the Woodstock Tree

Bhavenesh and Priyankar under the Woodstock Tree

Tears flowed earlier this month as 89 students graduated and left Woodstock for the final time, moving on to a range of top universities and colleges around the world to start an exciting new stage in their lives.

As always emotions were particularly high on the Wailing Wall, the nickname for the line of graduating students stationed on the school ramp saying long goodbyes and thank yous to staff members and friends after the commencement ceremony.

This year’s Valedictorian student, Priyankar Chand, from Nepal, will be going to Yale University in the United States to study cognitive science and South Asian studies.

He follows in the footsteps of one of Woodstock’s most distinguished alumni, Bhavenesh Kumari Patiala, who graduated from the school in 1950, and read law at Yale before going on to have a distinguished career in the field, working for the Supreme Court of India and acting as a legal adviser to several ambassadors in West Africa.

She is now a governor at Woodstock and regularly spends time at the school. Priyankar and Bhavenesh were able to chat about Yale prior to the graduation ceremony.

Bhavanesh, who graduated from Yale in 1960, urged Priyankar to make the most of all the social and recreational opportunities on offer at university, predicting he would have a fantastic time at the prestigious institution, even though the campus was “not as beautiful as Woodstock”.

Priyankar said he was looking forward to all the new experiences he would have at Yale but admitted it would be hard leaving Woodstock after seven years, and said he “would always hold good memories” of the school. Going to America will be the first time he has ever left Asia.

Prior to starting university Priyankar will spend time with a group of recent graduates climbing up to Everest base camp in Nepal.

by Ed Beavan

]]> 17
Woodstock students show CARE for the community Thu, 24 May 2012 07:09:47 +0000


A poster designed by students encouraging people not to drop litter

A poster designed by students encouraging people not to drop litter

As part of Woodstock’s commitment to give back to the local Himalayan community, the school’s Care and Restoration of the Environment (CARE) programme allows students to get involved in a wide range of community projects.

Earlier this semester a group of us from Grade 4 in the junior school went to the popular pilgrimage spot at the Sirkhanda Devi Temple near Dhanaulti to clear litter.

We arrived at the temple and  headed up the steep path armed with garbage bags and plastic gloves. The sky was blue and the mountains were robed in their greenest finery. The view down to the river valley below spread out before us in all of its splendour.

But sadly the view along the path was less than attractive. Everywhere we looked we were struck by garbage scattered here and there; kukure packets, chips, fruit boxes, plastic bottles, tin cans, paper plates, and discarded clothing and shoes. What a contrast to the amazing view the other direction. How could we possibly pick it all up?

The answer was one piece at a time! We began the tedious task of picking up all of this rubbish and putting it into big black garbage bags. We started with great enthusiasm but our backs soon began to ache and we wondered why people couldn’t be bothered to take their garbage home. At a local teashop we stopped for a cool drink and had a chat with the tea shop owner about the amazing amount of garbage around his shop.

Back at school we had made several posters with advice written on them about being sure not to litter. We taped all sorts of garbage onto it with the hope of attracting people’s attention as they walked by.

Many people we met on the path were impressed with our efforts; one old lady began picking up garbage helping us to fill our bag. We plodded on leaving a trail of filled garbage bags and posters.

At the top the view of the snows was spectacular. Finding a spot with a good view of the valley below we ate our lunch and marvelled at the huge amount of garbage we had managed to collect. Checking around us for anything we might have accidentally dropped, we headed back to the temple gate where the last of our big garbage bags lay.

The path looked so much cleaner now with no litter along the sides of the road. We stopped to admire our posters along the way, proud of the number of people our message would reach. We sent up a little prayer that people would take us seriously and help us with our cause.

At the bottom we thanked two horsemen who carried the garbage down and piled the bags into the taxi. On the long drive back to Mussoorie we contemplated all that had happened. How can we help the garbage problem? It suddenly brought to life all that we had studied about reducing the amount of garbage we use, re-using any garbage we can for something else and recycling as much as possible. Above all we vowed never to throw our trash carelessly on the ground again.

Sue Rollins is a Grade 4 teacher in the junior school at Woodstock.

Grade 5 students with the bags of litter they collected

Grade 5 students with the bags of litter they collected



]]> 5
Kids climbing the walls at Woodstock Mon, 14 May 2012 09:41:41 +0000
Prashant Allay (left) and a student at the climbing wall A student scales the climbing wall

Rock climbing is one of the most exciting and challenging of extreme sports, where participants have to use both muscular and mental power to overcome difficult physical challenges.

At Woodstock we have a superb climbing room in our Win Mumby gym, suitable for children of all ages, which is used by kids from as young as the early childhood programme and kindergarten through to students in Grade 12.

We have three 25ft walls in the climbing room which can be regularly adjusted to create new routes. Students can also try rappelling (abseiling), jummering (ascending technique), and basic and advanced climbing techniques. They also can learn rope knots and and safety rules for safe and enjoyable climbing.

Rock climbing is about mental strength, it requires great physical power and endurance, and you need to be physically and mentally fit to do it.

It really helps children to improve their confidence when they succeed in climbing a wall. At the same time, they have to show responsibility and build trust when they are belaying (lowering someone on a rope), and learn skills such as teamwork and dependence.

Over the semester I’ve really been able to see students really improve in these areas, some of them even want to take part in climbing competitions now. We are looking forward to taking part in a zonal level climbing competition and in the future we’re hoping to send climbers to national and international climbing competitions.

Rock climbing is extreme in its nature and there is of course an element of risk, so I always make sure all participants are thoroughly trained and know what they’re doing. But this risk is part of what makes rock climbing such a great sport, as participants have to overcome their fears and develop confidence.

I’ve taken some kids out to Flag Hill, a small mountain near here, where we’ve been able to do some bouldering. It’s great to get out and do this in the natural environment.

Rock climbing is part of the holistic curriculum we offer here at Woodstock and is really growing in popularity in India. It is now included in the Asian Games, and hopefully will be in the Olympics in the future.

Prashant Allay trained at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and the Tenzing Norgay Climbing Club in Darjeeling, and is the rock climbing instructor at Woodstock School.


]]> 0
Students strive to be good stewards of the earth Wed, 02 May 2012 06:13:41 +0000
A student-designed poster encouraging Woodstockers to be green

A student-designed poster encouraging Woodstockers to be green

At Woodstock School we aim to develop into individuals who “understand and seek to preserve our natural environment as good stewards of the earth for future generations”, and I love being part of a community which aspires to such a goal.

When I teach environmental science, I impress upon my students the magnitude of personal and national sacrifice that will be required to solve the environmental problems that we currently face – climate change, overpopulation and overuse of resources, to name just a few.

However, it’s easy to explain that we need to be sacrificial in our stewardship of the environment – few young people would disagree with that idea.  My greater challenge was to find a way to help students to see that just being aware of issues isn’t enough – we have to be prepared to act.

So when a colleague sent me an article about a trend of people observing “ecological” Lents, I was inspired to challenge my students to do the same.  Lent is a period when Christians traditionally practise a spiritual discipline to prepare themselves for Easter, but my students had to observe a specifically ecological discipline for the duration of Lent.

Most students chose to give up meat, knowing that the habit of meat consumption takes its toll ecologically – in terms of land use, pollution, and consumption of energy and water.  Others gave up packaged foods or the use of electrical appliances.

After an enthusiastic start some students couldn’t meet the sacrifice they had committed to, and dropped out of the project, but others kept going, even though they were very vocal about the pain of their sacrifice!

I am sure that the majority of my students returned to their normal behaviour once Lent was finished, but I was happy that they had had the chance to try a form of stewardship.  A few weeks after Easter I received an email from a student thanking me for giving her the opportunity to break a habit she’d had that was ecologically unsound.

Thus encouraged, I’m thinking up new ways to help my students become more ecological in their behaviour.  I’m thankful to be part of a school community that encourages stewardship and self-reflection.

Dr Tamara Philip is an environmental science teacher at Woodstock School.

]]> 0
Lifelong learning at Woodstock Thu, 26 Apr 2012 05:06:20 +0000
Woodstock students carrying out a science experiment

Woodstock students carrying out a science experiment

At Woodstock one of our core aims is that learning should be for life, not just during school years. We believe all staff and students are lifelong learners, and we continue to learn as we move on from educational establishments into the “real world”. So we want everyone here in our community at Woodstock to keep learning and growing, whether working as a teacher, administrator or accountant at the school.

Professional development has long been a priority for teaching and administrative staff, and non-teaching staff are encouraged to experience as much of school life as possible. This can be done through attending recitals and plays, helping out with sports coaching, or getting involved in other extra-curricular activities.

Non-teaching staff are also urged to sit in on lessons to observe what goes on in the classroom to keep in touch with the school’s main function of teaching. This is a very easy way to keep up lifelong learning. Which is why this week, for the first time in almost 20 years, I darkened the door of a science laboratory. Science was never my strong point at school, although I somehow managed to scrape an A in my GCSE exam.

As I entered the Grade 10 chemistry lesson, I was welcomed by teacher Dr Tamara Philip, and paired up with a student to work with. Our objective for the lesson was to carry out an experiment to find out the percentage of calcium carbonate in white and brown eggshells. After Dr Philip asked the students to propose various methods to achieve this end, I was impressed with how quickly and efficiently the young people got on with the experiments, requiring minimal supervision.

We were all soon crushing up eggshells, dissolving them in acid, and evaporating off the water in order to work out the quantities. Before I knew it we were out of time, and I was going to have to return next week to finish off the experiment. The experience was an overwhelmingly positive one for me; I had learnt that I could still hold my own in the science lab and work in a team to get results. Overall it was an excellent reminder that learning goes on for a lifetime.

Ed Beavan is a Communications Associate at Woodstock School.

]]> 2
Somewhere special Thu, 19 Apr 2012 10:31:02 +0000


Chris Kjolhaug at the Taj Mahal

Woodstock student math teacher Chris Kjolhaug at the Taj Mahal

I’ve been living here in the foothills of the Himalaya for more than 12 weeks now, and a question which never fails to come up is: “So what do you think of Woodstock?”

Instantly as I begin to formulate my answer, a smile comes to my face when I realise just how much I have experienced here in such a short time.

What springs to mind are all the great weekend hikes, activity week at nearby Gaird Village where we lived and worked with local people, the incredible landscape, and simply experiencing Indian life.

Working as a student math teacher I have found the students here are by no means typical.  Learning is second nature to a majority of them and motivation comes in bulk.

Without fail, after every lesson, no matter how short of perfect it may have seemed to me, I get an expression of gratitude in the form of “Thanks Mr Chris!”

Teaching here gives me a clear purpose as an educator and I could not think of a better school to act as a springboard for me as I launch into the realm of mathematics education.

Away from the school I was able to visit the magnificent Taj Mahal in Agra.

But above all the things I’ve experienced at Woodstock, there is one thing that is clearly elevated above the rest.

It is difficult to put it into words, as C.S. Lewis states: “Who can describe beauty?”  The beauty I am attempting to unwrap is not the physical layout of the foothills, but rather the beauty of an incomparable community which makes Woodstock what it is.

I have been blessed to be a part of a few incredible communities in my life thus far, but Woodstock is one of a kind.

It is a diverse population but comes together in a perfectly cohesive environment, which is astounding.  Countries have fought for so long over the borders of this world; over superiority, religion, and power; and at times it is difficult to see hope.

But Woodstock offers the perfect platform for a glimpse of what this world could be as far as living at peace with one another.  The idea of a world immersed in harmony has been in sight for ages, yet the achievement of it is just as far away as it was since the Fall.

However, places like Woodstock do exist in this world where this goal has become a reality.  It ripples from the choice of each member of each community, and Woodstock has made that stand together.

Chris Kjolhaug is a student math teacher at Woodstock School.

]]> 2
Marvellously musical Woodstock Wed, 11 Apr 2012 08:36:00 +0000
One of Woodstock's many orchestras in the quad

A Woodstock band poses in the quad

It’s hard to walk through the central quadrangle at Woodstock on a school day without hearing a pleasant cacophony of students practising music simultaneously; plastic Bb trumpets playing in one room as someone tinkles the ivories of a piano next door, while an orchestral symphony fuses together with the sound of a sitar. From my experience, I highly encourage everyone to take piano classes.

I have been privileged to teach private and group piano lessons at Woodstock School for the last three years. Woodstock provides opportunities for students to play a stringed instrument in four different levels of orchestras, a wind instrument in five different bands, or sing in three different choirs.

We also provide private lessons in piano, classical guitar, strings, wind instruments, percussion, and singing.  General music classes are available for elementary age students.

However, I think one of the most vibrant and exciting parts of our curriculum is the classical Indian music programme where students study sitar, santoor, tabla, Indian classical guitar, or Indian classical voice in private lessons.

In our ensembles, we create community between players and learn how to be collaboratively creative. Private lessons help our students to be responsible for their own learning through self-discipline and self-discovery.

General music classes at the primary and middle level engage our students and help grow their minds through melody and rhythm and help them to learn about their world holistically.

I can’t write about Woodstock without mentioning the fantastic diversity and quality of students who have taught me so much.

Through individual music lessons, students are able to build stronger relationships with adults, which is something that students in a boarding setting need and want.  It is a privilege to know these students and to help them find ways to express themselves creatively.

Kate Johnson is a piano teacher at Woodstock School.

]]> 0
Students experience Himalayan village life Tue, 03 Apr 2012 09:27:48 +0000
Student chaperone April Howell tries her hand at ploughing in a Himalayan village

Student chaperone April Howell tries her hand at ploughing in a Himalayan village during activity week

Our unique Himalayan location allows us to offer “Education Without Walls” here at Woodstock, which is all part of our holistic learning experience.

As part of this programme, the ninth grade at Woodstock School recently went out on their activity week to four different villages north of Mussoorie to experience village life first-hand.

The week was organised by Woodstock’s Hanifl Centre for Outdoor Education and Environmental Study where I am based.   Our objective this year was different – we wanted students to interact with villagers in a way so they could discover the challenges faced by a village community – and encourage students to explore solutions to meet these challenges.

In our previous visits our only interaction was a one-hour daily visit to different village families. This year, for the first time, students were given a mandate to map village resources through a series of questionnaires and examine problems that arose from these surveys.

Each day we spent about three to four hours with the villagers. We asked them about their livelihoods, customs, natural resources, healthcare, gender rights and education – and all this gave us a snapshot about things the villagers really wanted to improve or change.

In the end four students were shortlisted to present their ideas to the district magistrate and we hope this will have a positive impact on our host villages in the future.

Students and chaperones camped in tents at the village and visited families every day. This was a good opportunity for students to talk informally and develop rapports with the village community.

Students also taught math, English and drama to children in the village school, dug pits for tree planting, helped with weeding, learned to plough with bulls, and participated in a cultural dance event organised by children in the village.

As part of Woodstock School and the Hanifl Center’s vision to celebrate its Himalayan location and reach out to the wider local community, we believe this week was significant step towards that goal.

Rishi Damani works as brand and communications manager for the Hanifl Centre for Outdoor Education and Environmental Study at Woodstock.


Local children we met in activity week

Local children we met in activity week


]]> 0
An end to board-dom thanks to interactive technology Tue, 27 Mar 2012 08:38:01 +0000
Woodstock teacher David Raju using the interactive white board

Woodstock teacher David Raju using the interactive white board

Woodstock School is among the top schools in the world. We are a community of learners, achievers and movers of society.

Learning at Woodstock School is not restricted to students. Rather, we are all part of a learning community, which is what makes Woodstock unique. Our constant aim is to empower our students and create leaders for tomorrow.

We believe in teaching how to think rather than what to think so that students will make informed choices. We aim to create a stimulating and engaging atmosphere in the school that will enhance every child’s latent potential.

To help bring out this potential Woodstock is using changes in the information age by discerning which of the latest technological trends can help us in our educational goals.

One example of this is the interactive electronic white board, an excellent learning tool which incorporates colour. Research indicates that students respond positively to displays where colour is used.

The board can also accommodate different learning styles. Tactile learners can benefit from touching and marking the board, audio learners can listen to the class discussion stimulated by using the board, while visual learners can see what is taking place as it develops on the board.

I use the board to display images both from clip art and PDF screen shots from a soft copy of text.  This saves time as no instruments are needed to draw pictures such as geometric figures or writing lengthy application questions. There are many tools like geometric instruments, maps, biology pictures, and videos which are available when using the interactive white board.

We also use the board to review film from sports activities, which allows a coach to mark on the display as it happens. Scanned images can also be shown along with written text.  For example, at the end of a brainstorming activity, copies of the resulting document can be printed and immediately distributed, or saved for future work.

Students love the interactive white board! I use it in all of my classes and children of all ages want to use it every opportunity they can.

We also offer e-learning, where we post notes and assignments through our online Moodle portal. We have well-equipped computer studios with high-end computers, printers and carefully-monitored internet connectivity which prepare our young learners for the IT driven world.

I maintain a website and everything I teach in class goes on it.

This means students are able to download exercises, Power Point presentations and worksheets if they miss a class or would like a refresher. The blog is all about mathematics, from geometry to AP calculus. This website helps students to review their lessons and develop skills like creativity, curiosity, focus, passion, and a sense of vocation.

To see the blog go to

David Raju is a mathematics teacher at Woodstock School.

]]> 0
Drawing from experience at Woodstock Mon, 19 Mar 2012 07:31:46 +0000 WS_blog_picJPG Students sketching at outdoor education day at Woodstock

My cheeks are rosy and my legs are happily tired. Today is Wednesday and I didn’t go to school.

Instead, I explored the foothills of the Himalaya. I travelled across town to a ridgeline that passes by a Tibetan settlement and Sir George Everest’s house. After the road ends there is a footpath that leads to the top of Benog Tibba.

I’ve traversed here once before, but monsoon clouds blocked the view. Luck was on my side today though. Just short of the summit, I caught the first glimpses of snow-capped Himalayan peaks dominating the northern horizon. The view only got better as I ascended.

My name is Nan Onkka. I have been living and working at Woodstock School since 2009. I, without a doubt, have the best job in the school – I teach art.

I had the pleasure of taking 24 students with me on my hike today. At the top, we sat and sketched the surrounding landscapes, including the city of Mussoorie, the rolling foothills, the snow-capped mountains, and the river valley.

Any art class would benefit from such an experience, but the beauty of our experience was that we were not an art class. We were merely a motley group of teachers and students who chose to draw landscapes for Woodstock’s Outdoor Education Day.

The beauty of an unstructured school day is that it allows for unanticipated learning. Yes, I witnessed students engaging with their local landscape by exploring the natural environment and creating meaningful artworks.

But I also saw students develop leadership skills, persevere through physical challenges, show genuine concern for the wellbeing of others, teach each other to be good stewards of the earth, and demonstrate an inspiring amount of curiosity and playfulness. I enjoyed exploring, creating, learning, and playing along with them.

I didn’t step foot in my classroom today, but I definitely continued my work as a teacher – and as a lifelong student.

Nan Onkka is head of art at Woodstock School.

Photos: Phuriwat Chiraphisit


]]> 0
Navigating cultural boundaries in an international classroom Mon, 12 Mar 2012 11:58:36 +0000

I am American. It’s part of who I am, whether I like it or not. I bring my cultural background to the classroom, and it affects who I am as an ESL teacher at Woodstock School.

My students come from various countries and cultures. Together we attempt to navigate across cultural boundaries and language barriers, to achieve a single purpose: education. Does this make my classroom a melting pot?

The image of a cultural melting pot, already in use in the United States as far back as the 1780s, conjures up images of uniformity, assimilation, and loss of identity. Speak English! Fit in! Be like everybody else!

My ESL classroom is an international place, but I hope it’s not a melting pot. Yes, the goal is to equip students with English skills that will give them more opportunities in the future. However, this goal must not be accomplished at the loss of their home cultures and languages.

Woodstock’s desired learning outcomes include building cross-cultural competency, instilling empathy, and shaping a community where diversity becomes an asset rather than a liability.

So how do we accomplish this, practically speaking? I do it by inviting my students to bring their culture to bear on the curriculum and acknowledging the ways in which our culture impacts our worldview and our interpretation of literature, history, and current events.

My approach to lesson planning can be expressed using a simple analogy: windows and mirrors.

I hold up mirrors to the students to help them see connections between themselves and the curriculum. Then I challenge them to go beyond their own experience, to “look out the window” and explore other perspectives that may differ drastically from their own.

In this way, to quote Jimmy Carter, “We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams,” but one community: Woodstock School.

Meredith Dyson is an ESL teacher at Woodstock School.

Meredith Dyson (second from right) with Woodstock students

Meredith Dyson (second from right) with Woodstock students

]]> 0
New Kid on the Block Fri, 02 Mar 2012 09:05:04 +0000

I felt a sickness in the pit of my stomach last month as I arrived for the first day of the new school semester. Eighteen years after I left high school in the UK, once again I was the new kid on the block, this time at Woodstock School, India’s top international boarding school situated in the foothills of the Himalayas.

Like many of the students at Woodstock, I was far from home in a new country and a foreign culture. It all seemed a long way from the frenetic scenes of the Church Times newsroom in London, where as a journalist I used to ply my trade.

But there was no need to be nervous. I received an extremely warm welcome at the school which prides itself in its student diversity, joining students and staff from almost 30 different countries, including Afghanistan and America, Germany and Japan, Italy and India.

Students come from far and wide to take advantage of the unique educational experience offered at Woodstock, rooted in its Christian values.

It is a community which seeks to develop in students a lifelong passion for learning which will have a positive impact on both India and the world in years to come.

This vision of lifelong learning is not just limited to students, but applies to staff as well, and I am relishing this amazing opportunity to be back at school.

After years in the intellectual wilderness, I’m enjoying sitting in on history classes, learning Hindi, and shooting hoops in the school’s fantastic Win Mumby gym. I have also joined the staff choir and picked up my clarinet for the first time in years in the staff orchestra.

Going back to school has never felt so good!

For more information about Woodstock go to

Ed Beavan is Communications Associate at Woodstock School, Mussoorie, India.

Ed Beavan with his wife Kirsten at Woodstock School

Ed Beavan with his wife Kirsten at Woodstock School


]]> 0