Face to Face with Success

Meet Gavin Keller: The principal who has reimagined the classroom

In 2015, Sun Valley Primary made headlines for ditching homework and adopting a unique approach to teaching. Now, meet the man at the helm of the school where kids are taught to think – not merely to regurgitate facts – and how to fail.

Gavin Keller has been the principal of Sun Valley Primary in Fish Hoek since 1993, and in his two-and-a-half decades in charge, has turned the traditional concept of education on its head.

His passion for education started when he was in grade nine, and met the teacher whose passion and style became the example he wanted to follow into his own career - much to his father's dismay, who warned him that teachers don't make money!

If the teacher knows how to touch the life of a young learner, and connect with them, and get them excited about learning, we could change the future of society.

Gavin Keller

“The tragedy in education is that there is a classical mindset of what a school needs to look like,” Keller told Charlotte Kilbane. “I think that that has to change.”

“We’ve created an education model that is so narrow that we are no longer creating innovative, creative thinkers.”

Keller believes in a “brain-based” way of learning that helps children build foundational neural pathways that grow and connect and help them to think, rather than force-feeding them information to parrot back - and which courts failure as a stepping stone to success.

Schools, Keller says, are all about the tick and the cross – but “life is not about I’ve got it right or I’ve got it wrong.”

Life is about "show me how I can do it better".

Gavin Keller

In this week’s episode of Face to Face with Success, Keller shares his definition of success, and discusses the model of education that has helped Sun Valley Primary learners earn a reputation of grit, resilience and

maturity.

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