The Canadian Pre-University program is an excellent one: student-focused, skills-driven, staffed by some of the most educated Western university trained professionals working in Asia. Unfortunately it is virtually unknown, not only by Asians, but by Canadians as well who treat their own vastly superior educational product with a great yawn of indifference.

That’s our loss as Canadians, and mine too, as I would love to work in the next CPU program in Cambodia, for example. Except there isn’t one. In fact outside of this program I would be hard pressed to find something like it. Most of the other programs in Asia are very much content-driven, with all the deadening, dreary accumulation of facts ingested merely to be regurgitated at exam time that such a curriculum implies.

The closest thing to what we do in Canada is the IB program. It has a similar focus on skills and is similarly student-focused. If I ever do move on from CPU it would likely be to an IB school. Not that I want to move. But in teaching, as in most careers, it doesn’t pay to put all your eggs in one basket. So this weekend I took some training in the IB program, so if we reach the place where we have to move on, I will now have the qualifications to do so.

I must say I found the courses of study initially off-putting. The restrictions of what books and authors you are allowed to pursue struck me as constrained. But as I made my way through the workshop, I found myself coming to understand the program in a more sympathetic light, and by the conclusion of the workshop had begun to see its rationale more clearly and more enthusiastically. The opportunity to establish a network of teachers throughout the region with similar educational programs and objectives is an encouraging one.

The icing on the cake for the weekend was the opportunity to meet with a former student and his new girlfriend who are now working as educational consultants to students from the Middle East seeking to get further education in Malaysia. As I have mentioned before, this country is an educational hub in South-East Asia, and Anoosh and Ari are seeking to tap into that market and provide a much needed liason service to negotiate visas, scholarships and admissions for prospective students. It was great to see admitedly one of my favourite students again, and to share an outstanding meal and get caught up on each other’s news. A wonderfully fulfilling weekend, that has left me totally exhausted. Fortunately there are only three days this week before the mid-semester break which we plan to spend in Cambodia on a working holiday.