Cultures explored at education conference

Bettany Hughes, Simon Reeve, Martin Reader and Alan Rusbridger
Bettany Hughes, Simon Reeve, Martin Reader and Alan Rusbridger

Hundreds of school heads joined parents and pupils at Cranleigh School on Thursday April 28 to take part in the School’s first ever education conference.

Held in honour of the 150th anniversary the agenda for the Culture Summit was based around the school’s motto, ex-speakers included historian Bettany Hughes and Baroness Tessa Jowell, who looked at the meaning of culture and how it has shaped our societies.

Adventurer Simon Reeve explored the impact of globalism culture and heritage, and Alan Rusbridger, Principal of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford and former editor of the Guardian provided a fascinating look at the way digital culture is changing the world in the same way the printing press changed society.

Alan, himself an Old Cranleighan, praised his old school for placing cultural experiences at the heart of education.

“Ex Cultu Robur was Cranleigh’s original motto and the shape of our day is still built around an approach to education that focuses on really developing young people and offering them a wide range of cultural choices,” said Martin Reader, Headmaster of Cranleigh, who introduced the day.

“We believe that culture is the very heart and essence that makes a person human. The Culture Summit is therefore a very fitting celebration for our sesquicentennial anniversary.”

In the afternoon sessions, Professor Alfred H. Bloom, Vice-Chancellor of New York University Abu Dhabi, explained cultural commonality and the role of education in fostering meaningful cultural exchange across the globe.

The sessions, chaired by Headmaster of Cranleigh Preparatory School Michael Wilson, finished with a look into the future from learning futurist David Price and Baroness Susan Greenfield, reviewing evidence from neuroscience on how we live and learn now.

Cranleigh Abu Dhabi, which Michael Wilson helped to establish, celebrates its first birthday this academic year.

The School now educates 54 different nationalities together. In his address Michael said: “With modern communication and increased mobility the world is becoming a smaller place and we are meeting many more people from different cultures.

“We are all so busy that you could argue that we do not spend enough time getting to know them, the customs and what is important to them. It is often easier to impose our values on them, which can lead to tension, intolerance and often conflict.

“Our duty as educators is to mould those children to understand each other in tolerance, empathy, understanding and the acceptance that we are culturally different and that is something to celebrate.”

Cranleigh is a leading co-educational boarding and day school set in a stunning rural location in more than 280 acres on the edge of the Surrey Hills.

In 2015 the School celebrates its 150th anniversary; it has come a long way since its establishment as a school to support the local farming community in 1865.

There are strong links between the School and nearby Cranleigh Preparatory School and pupils also join from a wide variety of other prep schools across London and the home counties, creating a lively, House-based community of young people who are drawn together by their inherent love of life and getting involved in everything Cranleigh has to offer.

In 2015 the newest addition to the Cranleigh family also celebrates a birthday.

Cranleigh Abu Dhabi, situated at the heart of Saadiyat Island, the Emirates’ island of culture, opened its doors to the first pupils at the Junior School in 2014 and the Senior School will open next Like the other Schools in the Cranleigh family, Cranleigh Abu Dhabi shares the motto Ex Cultu Robur (from Culture comes Strength), an ethos which celebrates co-curricular success alongside academic excellence with remarkable results for every pupil, year on year.