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The Power of Education and the Philosophy of Ubuntu

By: Upper School Director Debbie Brummit

November 13, 2019

As a young educator, I had the privilege of spending time in Cape Town, South Africa. I was there not long after apartheid ended and a new democracy was developing. Along with this new democracy came many changes in education, especially for people of color as adequate education had been denied them for many years. Many injustices, due to a corrupt government and a racially segregated population, prevented an entire generation from reaching their substantial potential. People were forced to live in township squalor, and education was minimal at best. While there, I worked with teachers from these townships who valued education and believed that this would set their young people free. I did not know then that the lessons I learned in South Africa would impact the educator that I would become and the philosophies that I would hold dear.

There are two lessons that I value and think about almost daily from this experience. Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” First, the fact that an oppressive government would choose to deny education as a tool to gain strength, proves the power of education. This means, that one of our responsibilities as parents and teachers is to ensure a quality education for our children. This also illustrates that our job as effective educators is necessary for the success of our community. Instilling the desire to learn, the ability to ask questions, and a passion to make a positive impact in our world, makes our roles as parents and teachers invaluable. 

The second lesson I learned from the people in South Africa is the idea of Ubuntu. Ubuntu is an African term from the Zulu tribe which is most often translated as, “I am because we are.” This powerful idea of community and spirit overcomes obstacles and creates an environment where all people can grow and learn from and with each other. Just as at Rossman, these educators from South Africa and those they serve believe deeply in the idea of creating open conversation, trust, and love with all working for the common good. They believe that their happiness is bound in the happiness of those around them. 

Rossman School is in many ways different than the township schools in South Africa. However, the philosophies and beliefs that educators hold dear are true for both. At Rossman, teachers, parents and students believe that education is powerful. At Rossman we believe that our happiness is bound to the happiness of each other. I am grateful that I have found a school in which to work where I see the power of education happening daily through a supportive community.

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Rossman School, nestled on a 20-acre campus in Creve Coeur, is an independent private preparatory school for students in Junior Kindergarten (four years old) through Grade 6. The school’s mission is to provide a strong, well-balanced education in a nurturing school community committed to excellence. Dedicated to developing personal, nurturing relationships with each child, Rossman’s experienced educators provide a solid foundation in academics, athletics and arts while emphasizing strong character development and leadership skills.​ Request a free Rossman School brochure here.

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