My name is Marcus Sherwood and I am currently the Head of Primary at Dulwich College Seoul, a British International School in Banpo, Seochu-gu. I am here with my wife and two daughters and living with my family in a mega city like Seoul, with its 22 million inhabitants, is a world apart for a Kiwi boy who grew up heading to school in his bare feet. Travel was always going to play a major role in my life, for even as a young boy we moved around a lot. I remember my early childhood being full of adventure and freedom; catching eels in the creeks that criss-crossed the farm, tunnelling into pumice cliffs or building haystack forts. I was 9 when we moved to Auckland and it was here I would embark on a journey through Auckland Grammar where I was fortunate to come under the wing of Sir John Graham, one time All Black Captain and Headmaster of Grammar from 1973-1993.
I believe wherever we live we have the opportunity to learn more about each other. I was fortunate to spend a year in Lautoka, Fiji as a 14 year old and learning the language of the playground (Hindi and Fijian), how to fish on the reefs and a respect and understanding of cultures very different to my own was a life lesson I have always kept with me. Rugby has also provided me with a passport to travel and I spent a year in Canada following the inaugural World Cup in 1987 and in the mid 1990’s, I headed to Ireland, playing three years in Dublin.
It was the enjoyment of coaching and working with people from all over the world that first brought me to teaching. Since those early days, I have taught in New Zealand, England, Malaysia and now South Korea. Working for Dulwich College here in Seoul presents a unique challenge. That education is a national obsession goes without saying, and the Korean work ethic and determination to succeed academically is to be admired. However, education today needs to offer more, as was so eloquently highlighted in Lukas Beech’s Member Interview. Undoubtedly, my own formative experiences reinforce a belief in the importance of a rich and broad curriculum, where music, the arts and of course sport play a key role in the development of the whole person.
At Dulwich College the International Baccalaureate Diploma, the College’s 6th Form programme, emphasises the importance of this breadth and rigour, and drives the teaching philosophy throughout the school. In my daily travels through the classrooms I hear children asking and debating philosophical questions, for example- “What does it mean to be poor?” I also see a school concerned about wellbeing and in developing the children’s ‘soft skills’. Beyond the curriculum these transferrable skills will retain their value, wherever the students may venture. Resilience, empathy, reasoning and collaboration may not be easily measurable but by not providing the opportunities for students to develop them, and others like them, I believe we would be doing our students a great disservice.
As a family, we have quickly come to appreciate Korea, a wonderful country offering a rich cultural history, a vibrant and exciting city life and the magic and beauty of four distinct seasons. However, memories of the summer BBQs, games of touch, breath-taking scenery and the pure air and space of Aotearoa will always be in the heart.