“Leaders need to acknowledge their vulnerabilities” – Robert Brindley

Author: Georgiana Calin

What is the connection between geophysics and many American schools in Europe, South America and Australia? In addition to the fact that you need to master the subjects so that you can end up doing this job, the connection is made by a person dedicated to children’s education, who brings the field paradigms up to date, little by little, to various corners of the world. Dr. Robert Brindley began his career in the mining industry as a geophysicist, which he chose as a hobby, but he later chose to start all over again as a teacher. He has been running the American International School of Bucharest for two years.

Robert Brindley, AISB Director

As a child and a teenager, Robert Brindley had no idea as to what he would like to become when he grew up, but, according to him, he has always been fascinated with rocks. Naturally, his hobby as a young person has stayed as intense and turned into the object of his studies, at the prestigious University of Exeter. But the unexpected forces of destiny then led him to the education field.

During one of his travels to New Zealand, he came across A.S. Neill’s Summerhill, which inspired him and changed his perspective on education. Moreover, once he was back in England, he set out to study to become a teacher. Here, he resumed his studies, including the management of education institutions, and taught at schools in Italy, Australia, Venezuela, USA and Uzbekistan. And, as of the 2014-2015 academic year, in Romania.

His background in multinational companies has taught him that “the teacher’s approach is essential in education; children’s behavior and aspirations are the same everywhere”, and the various educational philosophies are many times extremely outdated, which leads to a great reluctance to evolution.

The teacher has chosen to come to Romania for the benefit of the American International School of Bucharest, where he felt there was openness to change and the desire to overcome standard education mindsets. “The school seemed to be ready for this type of change,” he says, “and the battle was half won.” “When the constituents admit something needs to be done, everything moves much faster.”

When it comes to Romania, according to Robert Brindley it is headed in a good direction. “Believe it or not, the country is stable, safe, it is beautiful, people are friendly.” He admits that everything is relative, however, he insists on feeling well here, all the more so as “people are generally looking for a change.

The school he runs is stable, both financially, and strategically; therefore, the elements needed for innovation are already in their place. They just need to be refined. “Romanian students are very well adapted to the international spirit of the school” – this is one of the qualities he has discovered in the local children; one of the American School’s main benefits is that it feels the pulse of other cultures and civilizations, as this place reunites students from several countries. This is visible in time, as the children become more tolerant and start to integrate wider perspectives on the world, according to Dr. Brindley. “AISB as an institution implies intellectual strictness, social inclusion and cultural diversity.

What pushes him forward? His motivation originates from an inexhaustible source: his satisfaction to give; adding up to his words comes a quotation from Lao Tsu, “A leader is best when people barely know he exists; when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”

In his life outside his profession, Robert Brindley believes himself to be a lucky man, who has found his balance – which is what defines him. For this reason, the top of the AISB Director’s list of achievements is represented by his happy marriage and his two children. “The one person I would listen to and get advice and ideas from is my wife, Jann”, he says.

In ten years’ time, he sees himself as helping transition schools in Central Asia and Eastern Europe to develop; however, teaching has always been and will always be “one of the most satisfying of activities” he has ever done.

To the AISB Director, “a leader is a person who considers themselves responsible for finding the potential of people and who acts in this direction.” “Leaders need to acknowledge their vulnerabilities – the power to reveal oneself is the greatest sign of courage and strength; the person who puts themselves first is not a leader,” Robert Brindley concludes.

Three career lessons:

Lesson 1. The teacher’s approach is essential in education; this makes the recruitment of dedicated teachers very important.

Lesson 2. Teachers must be supported and provided with all comfort in teaching:  support systems, financial planning, education resources, buildings reflecting educational needs.

Lesson 3. Continuous innovation and change in the field.

Most important value: integrity.

Hobbies: classical guitar, collecting ammonites, travelling.


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