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The Friday Interview: Mr Arlo Knox

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(Image: Mr Knox, Pavlov's Housemaster)

The introduction of the House system at the start of last year at IEG was met with both delight and some skepticism by students and staff. This week, a year and a term on, IEG News talked to Mr Knox, Housemaster of Pavlov House about the House system.

IEG: Why do we have the House system?

Mr Knox: In some ways it’s about bringing another level of Student Care to the school. Being part of a House gives students the opportunity to grow as a community, giving them support and as well as a strong sense of group cohesion. But more than that, belonging to a House helps students develop skills that will serve them well in later life. For example, the passion and dedication that students show taking part in House activities is very easily transferable to the real world. It’s a great training for the real world. You could see that in the way students took part in the recent Inter-House Debating Competition. There they were up there on stage striving to do their best for their House. It helps to create a wonderful sense of spirit in the school.

IEG: JK Rowling’s Harry Potter novels are often mentioned when explaining the House system to new or potential students. What have you got to say about that?

Mr Knox: I’m not massively familiar with the books but I do think they romanticize the House system slightly. And perhaps because of the private British school connotation of the books, it makes it sound like it’s very snobbish. But that’s not what belonging to a House is about. IEG isn’t trying to be some fake private school. Like I said, belonging to a House is about community, team-spirit, and unique sense of togetherness. Teachers at IEG don’t just teach their subject. Through the House system they’re helping to develop other kinds of skills in students – like leadership, teamwork, competitiveness and resilience – that you need to get on in the real world.

IEG: You yourself went through the English school system and were part of a House. What did it mean to you?

Mr Knox: It was incredibly important to me. Looking back I can see that a lot of the skills that have helped me get on in my career have come from that. My House taught me to be open to knew ways of thinking; to have a sense of personal discipline. It was also a great way of having fun together. School isn’t just about academic pursuits and goals. Students need rewards, too, and to feel that taste of success. You can get that through participating in House activities. That was very evident in the way the students responded to the House Sports Day as well as the Debate Competition. There was such a buzz around the place.

IEG: The House system is pretty new at IEG. Where do we go from here?

Mr Knox: We’re getting there. Dr Benedikz and Mr Spires are firmly behind this and realise that we’re laying the foundations for years to come. Students and staff are learning more about what it means to be in a House and work for your House as they go along. I was chuffed to hear about the student who went to IES Täby and told the 9th graders there that he was initially dubious about being in a House but then explained how great it really is. You can’t get a better recommendation of it than that. It’s great to see how it is really starting to mean something to students and staff. The fact that Mr Presland and Mr Olson showed up to the Staff Christmas Dinner wearing their Pavlov House tie shows that staff are also taking pride in it too. Each House is a growing community; I believe that the more we put into the House system, the more we’ll get out of them. It’s been a leap of faith, initially, but this term I think we’ve really started to see the benefits. It’s just the beginning but it’s so exciting to be part of this. The House system is one of the things that makes Internationella Engelska Gymnasiet unique.

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If you have any questions about the House system, feel free to post them in the comments section below.

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