By Nathan Kimmons, LQ Coordinator & Head of Humanities
The focus of many programmes in international school education is to prepare students for university. And rightly so. But what skills do most real-world employers really want? Which skills do entrepreneurs need to get their businesses off the ground? Advanced calculus knowledge is rarely at the top of the list. In fact, survey after survey reveal that soft skills—especially communication, organisational and interpersonal skills—are most important for career success. With this in mind, LANNA has created and published our student-led, biannually-published school magazine for over a decade. Some might think that magazines and other printed media have become obsolete in today’s online world. I disagree and would like to explain exactly how this publication helps to develop LANNA students’ skills in these essential areas.
To start with, let’s consider the stated key aim of the LQ: “Students acquire useful real-world skills and experience by leading and contributing to a professionally printed magazine as student editors, writers, and artists.” Let’s explore these roles.
Each year, a LANNA Secondary student is chosen to be the Student Editor. This student, with the help of their Assistant Editor(s), is responsible for choosing the theme for each issue, communicating with students and staff schoolwide to plan the numerous articles, keeping in touch with student writers to advise them on article structure and content, finding and choosing artwork, planning layout, proofreading, and much more. These student leaders collaborate on these tasks with the LQ Coordinator and learn how to manage a complex project with dozens of contributors via email and in-person meetings.
The School’s guidelines state that at least 60 percent of the content in each issue should be created by students. These students write a variety of articles: commentary on world events, film and music reviews, sports news, reports on special events, opinion pieces related to the issue’s theme, or any other creative ideas they might be interested in contributing. These writers must collaborate with a mentor (teacher) and the editorial team to put forward their best possible writing. Writers improve their grammar and vocabulary; they see the importance of being concise and adhering to word limits; and they feel the pressure of meeting deadlines.
The magazine cover always features student artwork, often done as a schoolwide competition. We also aim to use original photos and illustrations done by students instead of simply downloading stock images. In addition to exercising their creativity and developing new skills, this also teaches students the importance of following intellectual property laws.
When all is said and done, the most exciting moment for me is the day when the students receive their printed copy of the LQ. Of course, the first order of business is for the students to rifle through the pages looking for photos of themselves and their friends. Then they can practice their reading skills such as scanning and skimming to complete the accompanying literary quiz competition for prizes.
The secondary aim of the LQ is to deliver key communications to internal and external stakeholders, primarily by showcasing student work and achievements and informing stakeholders of LANNA news. Students are asked to share these magazines with their families and discuss school life, the theme, the news, and the opportunities mentioned in the issue. We feel that a high-quality printed magazine is far more likely to achieve this goal than a PDF newsletter sent out by email and viewed on a screen. In fact, one parent recently told me that she made the decision for her family to join the LANNA community after reading the LQ because it was so impressive to see what our students were capable of. I can think of no higher praise.
Digital versions of past LQ issues can be found here. We look forward to sharing the next edition in December 2021 with you. Enjoy your read!