A Class Apart - Anjum Babukhan

Born and raised in the US and having moved to Hyderabad after marriage, Anjum Babu Khan thinks of herself as being GLOCAL – “thinking globally, acting locally”. A blend of East and West, she’s always been able to see the best in both worlds in terms of education and enrichment. And as owner of the Glendale Group of Institutions, she has integrated the best methodologies into the various curricula at the schools she runs. The group consists of Glendale Academy International (CBSE & Cambridge), Edufun Early Learning Academy (five preschools), Glendale Creative Arts Academy (PYP), Edvantage, Teacher Leadership Institute, Springfields International School (CBSE), and Springfields School (five SSC schools). In conversation with Anjum about education and her learning spaces…

What inspired you to enter the field of education?
I always wanted to make a difference in peoples’ lives, and as an honours student in psychology, I loved human development. After moving to India from the US, the subsequent opportunity to make a difference in the field of education was encouraged by my husband and in-laws. Moreover, once I had children, I wanted them to experience the same kind of enriching education that I was fortunate enough to have while growing up in the US.

How does Glendale Academy distinguish itself from some of the other, newer schools that have sprung up?
As an educational thought leader, I keep our schools abreast with cutting edge pedagogy to support our twin focus of character and competence. To fulfil the 21st century requirements, I go to different corners of the globe to make sure we are current – whether it’s from Harvard’s Project Zero, Singularity University in Geneva, or Design Thinking of Stanford.

Glendale has been a pioneer in implementing the methodology of Dr Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligence. We believe in the maxim that “the more ways we teach, the more children we reach.” We have been very fortunate to have Dr Gardner himself visit our institution in 2012. We know that MI builds 21st century skills!

We also back our pedagogy with neuroscience research. I have authored ABCs of Brain Compatible Learning and created videos for other teachers and schools to learn from our best practices to help “teach with the brain in mind.” I was the only person from the entire sub-continent to attend the Think Tank on Global Education at Harvard University, and Glendale was the first school to incorporate the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals into its curriculum in 2017. We are also one of the first schools to bring Stephen Covey’s ‘Leader in Me’ programme, and are up for certification to soon become the first ‘Lighthouse School’ in India.

What do you feel are the key areas of improvement in the Indian educational system?
The system needs to move away from the outdated “drill and kill” system, as too much focus on marks alone can be detrimental to a child’s holistic development. The focus should be on developing 21s tcentury skills like communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and character. We emphasise an experiential methodology, where a child is empowered with life skills for success.

What advice would you give to parents about choosing the right school?

  • The campus should be set up for holistic growth.
  • The school’s emphasis on teacher development is a must. Otherwise, how can schools deliver on their lofty goals?

What do you find most rewarding about what you do?
As a lifelong learner, I visualise myself as a bee gathering nectar from myriad flowers of knowledge from different corners of the globe. I then synthesise the nectar to create the sweet honey of wisdom, which I like to share with others. I like to lead by example. I aim to fully optimise my own learning and growth to empower and enrich the lives of my teachers and students. I love the fact that I have the blessed opportunity to add value to every child and adult I work with; make the world a better place through quality education; and build and share exemplary pedagogical practices to empower others.

What are your future plans?
I think I have an aspiring artist in me, and I am waiting to see how I can explore that creative side.

What are your hobbies and interests?
From A to Z, there is a long list ranging from aromatherapy and art to yoga and Zumba! I love learning anything that fits into building my own Multiple Intelligences spectrum!

If you could turn back time and get to be a young student again, what’s the first thing you’d do?
I would be educated in a school that was run by someone who thinks like me, of course!       – as told to Sumana