It is often the case that a serendipitous meeting or event sets you on an unexpected path in your life.
In every individual there is a defining moment which sets this person on a unique path. This is particularly evident in some of our Learning Unlimited students who, because of a defining interest or passion, have often set their hearts and souls on reaching specific goals and realising specific dreams.
Valuing and supporting such people is not to be taken for granted as our western industrial society applauds achievement, narrowly defined in terms of marks and paper certifications, and encourages competition. This often leads to an unhealthy focus on achievements and results and underplays inner qualities such as empathy, compassion and care.
In this newsletter I wish to focus on individual students who have shown these admirable characteristics and above all let the emphasis fall on narratives of their own actions and, in some cases, their actual words in mini biographies written by the students themselves. In both we learn what matters to them and why and how they go about giving back to society in ways they find as personally fulfilling as their actions are beneficial for others.
Let us now return to the question with which we began: can we create an environment in which the child flowers in goodness? I think we can. Firstly, we can do so in obvious practical ways such as doing everything in our power to fit lessons around existing commitments of this kind and showing that we value these aspirations in our students by doing so.
More subtly, we can do something to inculcate such qualities in others or enable them to flower yet more where they already exist by trying so far as possible to nurture the relationship between teacher and student. In my high school years, I was so privileged to be taught science by a teacher who inspired me as a human being and engendered a great love of science in me. One such defining moment in my life was when we gave a presentation in the City Hall on the global food crisis, why it had occurred, and practical suggestions based on scientific knowledge to address this issue. What was indelibly impressed on me was that the problems of the world could be solved through collective effort, and that we each have a part to play in making this planet a better and safer place for all its inhabitants.
Our Learning Unlimited website is replete with testimonials from our present and former students who testify to similar relationships with our tutors; and the video on our homepage was compiled and directed by our students.
Academic rigour matters, yes, as examinations have to be written and success in them is important. But it is vital never to forget that the concept of an environment is a subtle one, and personal relationships in which compassion and respect are given their due can be the most enabling environment of all.
The stories of our students below show that when all these elements are in place the result can be not merely exam preparation but something more important, education itself.
Former and current Learning Unlimited students who are making a difference in our world today
Joe was a student at Learning Unlimited until 2013. During his time with us, he studied and sat for his GCSEs, A Levels, and SATs. He went on to study Computer Science and Health Policy at Harvard from 2014 until 2018.
During his studies, he struggled with a chronic health condition, which inspired him to leverage his degree to help others with less privilege who were also struggling through their own health journeys.
This passion manifested in Karuna Health; a company Joe founded in 2018 to help community health organizations more easily communicate with their patients. Karuna Health was acquired in 2020 and Joe has since joined a venture capital firm in New York to help other young founders dedicated to improving the world with technology pursue their own dreams.
“My time at Learning Unlimited taught me to thrive in uncertainty and never accept the status quo.” – Joe Kahn
LEO SUPPORTS US AGAIN!
Not only did Leo Gevisser donate part of his fees from his orchestral engagements in June to the Masidlale project, but he followed this up with a donation of a violin to Masidlale and Nolizwi Monica Dadase, interim Masidlale manager, and now, another donation after his recital tour. Thanks so much, Leo
Article published in “Spring Strings, Spring Season, Music Tots”
Sophia and Sheba in conversation at Learning Unlimited, Rondebosch.
My name is Sophia and I have been studying through Learning Unlimited since July 2022.
I am due to write my IGCSE English Language exams in the beginning of October. Norman Bernard has been one of the greatest English mentors I have ever known.
Sharon Levy has also been guiding me through the IGCSE Combined Science and Maths syllabi which I am due to write in May next year. Her gentle guidance has been everything I’ve needed in easing back into academic learning.
I left Westerford Highschool, which is a public school in Cape Town, at the end of my Grade 11 year, in 2017. That makes me 22 years old now. I have been working as an Assistant Veterinary Physiotherapist for Animal Physical Rehab since May 2018. We are based at Blue Cross Veterinary Hospital in Newlands and Peninsula Veterinary Hospital in Diep River.
My work involves all sorts of assisting jobs around the practice, whether it be admin, scribing, handling the animals, driving the underwater treadmill, drafting documents, finances or anything really! We work with any four-legged animals (mostly dogs and horses and some cats) who need anything from postoperative rehabilitation to paralysed patients, learning to use their limbs again. I have also tutored, and au paired for a number of years.
I am currently tutoring 3 foster children. One Grade 5 who is 13 years old and cannot read and two Grade 9s who are 16 years old who need intensive support in most of their subjects. I wish to combine my love of animals and children into one passion at some point in my life, most likely in a therapeutic capacity. – Sophia Carlyle
‘Ever since I can remember, I have been drawn towards horses. A few years ago, I realized a sad truth, that horses have become silenced in the noise of pride and greed. I began my journey with Learning Unlimited in February this year.
I am currently doing my A-levels, after which I will continue on with my studies to do my BSc in Equine Science, and MSc in Equine Behaviour. I was volunteering at a rescue center working with traumatized horses, for a while before I started with my studies. Currently, I educate people and children about compassionate training methods with their horses.
My goals and passion in life is to be part of the movement towards more ethical management and training, and to help owners and their horses overcome behavioural issues, and develop authentic, meaningful connections with these kind, misunderstood animals.’ – Erin Hyman