Brian Tupper, a 1995 graduate of Southampton High School, is a teacher who has traveled across the world educating students. Mr. Tupper, 41, spoke to The Express from his home in Bangkok, Thailand, about The Kindest School, an online international school he plans to launch in September.
What is your personal philosophy on education?
I don’t believe education is one-size-fits-all. I think the most important thing you can teach a kid is to have a growth mindset — that it’s ok to fail if you’re trying. If you’re not trying, there are no excuses. I think you need to instill in them the feeling of empathy and that there should be a need for service and helping others. In the world we live in, I think you see the best of humanity when terrible things happen to people. If we can use that every day, instead of just in an emergency when we need to, it would be great. I think the educational system we have now is antiquated, and that’s the reason I’m starting this school. I think we need to focus more on how the world has changed. They still want kids in rows in classes. That was basically developed for a factory line, to be a good worker in a factory. We’re not that type of world anymore. I just try to find a way to allow kids to try new things, help others and also to learn in a very unique, engaging way. If you can get kids to buy into a program and keep them engaged, you’ve won the battle. Education becomes very easy.
You taught at urban schools in Florida and international schools in other countries. How did your experiences at these schools shape your vision for a new kind of school?
Nothing has changed since I was in school to today, except the world around us. Education has not changed since I left college. It was all the same. We wonder why society is what it is. The tools have changed that made it possible for education to change, but the methods of teaching remain traditional. Education right now is only 2 percent digitized. There’s a problem with that. How can we order McDonalds on our phone and have it delivered to us, but we are still going to school and reading out of a textbook? I think there’s something wrong with that. I want to challenge the system.
What was it like developing your own school curriculum
It’s risky. But luckily, I’m fearless. I’m not afraid to fail, and I as a teacher I teach my students to believe in themselves. I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t take this chance myself. If I fail, I’ll just go back into the classroom with my tail between my legs, but I don’t see that happening because I don’t know how to fail.
The Kindest School is based on the tenets of “knowledge is power,” “inspire others,” “never give up” and “diversity is strength.” What are some of your goals?
I really want to bring family back into the equation of education. One of the goals is to revolutionize home schooling — take government out and bring family back in, the way it used to be done. And they’ll get that sociability. And it’s to give everyone around the world the chance at a high-quality, international school education. … I’ll be selling the lessons I have been creating over the last four years that are based on my four pillars on kindness. I believe that there are more kind people than bad people, but the bad people get all the press. It’s a crazy world out there right now. It’s a perfect time to launch it. The world needs kindness more now than ever in its history. I want to teach people to “be kind when no one is watching.” I always believe in “leaving a place better than you found it.” That’s a goal of mine — that when and if I ever retire, I want to have left education better than I found it.
Visit thekindestschool.org for more information on programs and curriculum, along with a reading campaign called “The Kindest Generation Global Reading Initiative.”