Springsteen ends his song with:
“Tonight I hear the neighborhood drummer sound
I can feel my heart begin to pound
We made a promise we swore we'd always remember
No retreat, baby, no surrender
Like soldiers in the winter's night
With a vow to defend
No retreat, baby, no surrender.”
The vow that the American School of Bombay and many of our peer schools have made and will defend
without retreat or surrender is: To constantly monitor the fine balance between relevance and
irrelevance. . . always nudging from within the system, pushing the fulcrum in the direction of relevance.
Yet knowing always, as the Upanishads warn, “that knowledge [knowing that we must remain relevant]
without wisdom [the awareness that our school is but one variable in the complex equation of the
global educational ecosystem] leads to sorrow [an ironic irrelevance].
It is this vow, the vow to maintain the ‘Fine Balance of Relevance in the Global Educational Ecosystem,’
that should drive decision making at schools as we prepare students for a future they themselves will
1 An allusion to Rohinton Mistry’s novel, A Fine Balance. Just as Mistry captured the cruelty and corruption
alongside the dignity and heroism of India in the mid-seventies…so does the issue of ‘educational relevance in the
21st Century’ speak of darkness and light. Just as Rohinton’s two tailors were forced to share an apartment, so
must ‘education past’ and ‘education future’ share this moment in time.
2 Some of the language in this paragraph is adapted from Wikipedia.
3I don’t actually still have the essay I refer to here, but I vividly remember the question and the answer. Why?
Because that was the year I had Taylor Mathis in class.
4 As quoted at his session during ASB Un-Plugged 2014.
5 I think Wendy Koop, CEO and Co-founder of Teach for America and Teach for All would call this: Social and
Cultural Contextuality. On this topic, Wendy says (and I liberally paraphrase), that the biggest mistake Teach for
America, made in its early years, was not realizing the disruptive impact local geography, culture, and social
context could have on a “canned model of education” that was being scaled up.
6 Some of this language is adapted from Wikipedia. The excerpt comes from the middle of Chapter 5 of the novel.
7 INKTalks are India’s powerful response to TED. It’s where, and I quote, “The world’s visionaries – CEOs,
entrepreneurs, artists, technologists, scientists & more – gather under one roof for a cross-pollination of ideas and
chance encounters for the next big breakthrough.”