MYP Design Teacher
Let the record show that Ryan Kingsley is an MYP Design teacher. It takes only a brief conversation with him though, to realise that he has a multitude of other labels that apply, none of which on its own sums him up.
Even his association with SIS which started in 2007 has seen him wear the badges of Mathematics Teacher, Head of Mathematics, Website Designer, IT Manager, MYP/DP Technology Integrator, and EAL PYP Teacher.
Outside of SIS, Ryan is a proud parent, chess enthusiast, a creative artist across different media and genres, and – though he very definitely and proudly comes from a land down under – an internationalist.
‘It’s one of the things I love about our School’, he enthuses. ‘I remember one day standing in front of a class of 11 kids, and realising that every one came from a different country. I thought to myself how wonderful that they should have the opportunity to know people from other lands, from other cultures, and what a marvellous learning opportunity it gave them that doesn’t come from a taught lesson.’ And Ryan is proud to be part of a multinational staff too. ‘I think it’s great how the thirty-odd nationalities of our staff reflect the international mix of the student body. I find it a great environment to work in.’
It’s perhaps not surprising that Ryan took to teaching and so enjoys seeing students learn and discover. His father was a school principal, and his mother worked as a school administrator, so he was very familiar with the environment. ‘I think the atmosphere I was raised in had the notion of doing good for people very much at its heart. I guess that’s what drew me back to teaching after I had spent a couple of years in the modelling and fashion world – the chance to pass on to kids the excitement of learning.’ He enjoys teaching in the middle school as the children are similar age to his own 2 kids aged 12 and 14 and can relate to their learning development which helps with student engagement.
Ryan’s artistic interests are varied. As a computer scientist and also a creative he is intrigued – perhaps a bit alarmed – about how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is beginning to impact the world of education, and what the consequences might be for individuality and creativity. ‘I ask myself, is there a danger it leads us to a position where the judgement of what is good is reliant on what AI has learned from what has gone before? Will AI begin to tell us that the new and original is not acceptable?’
For Ryan that creative outlet is essential. ‘A few years ago I looked at myself and thought I’ve followed a fairly conformist path. Then I remembered a piece of advice someone had given me, and that I would pass on to our students today: “Find out what you love, then make it your career”.’
After some introspection, he decided to return to creative things he loved. He has hired a small studio, and uses it as his artistic retreat – following what spurs him at any given moment, using art for wellness and mindfulness. ‘I feel it gives me back a part of me that was missing, and I just follow what interests me. It’s even led to some commercial projects, designing working environments, creating art for specific spaces – it’s quite organic.’
What brought him to Sweden? ‘Well, Aussies don’t come here for the weather and taxes’ he jokes, before explaining that he met his Swedish partner in London, and like so many of our staff moved to Stockholm for the relationship – a ‘love refugee’ as he puts it.
Family life is obviously very important to Ryan, and he gets particularly excited when referencing his son, who is developing a passion for another of Ryan’s great loves – chess. ‘He’s beating me now’, he declares with pride (and maybe a little envy of the young, agile mind). ‘Age makes you humble again’ he says. ‘The learning process becomes slower, so it’s great to see my son outstripping me now.’
Chess figures prominently in Ryan’s life at the moment. As well as chauffeuring his son to competitive tournaments in and around Stockholm, Ryan is earnestly working to revive the chess tradition at SIS. ‘SIS had a great chess history, so along with colleagues I’m working to resurrect that. The TV series The Queen’s Gambit has made chess very popular again, and so we’ve established a chess club in SIS, with regular meetings and access to online tournaments.
‘Chess is a great international game. It crosses barriers of age and language and geography, and as The Queen’s Gambit showed, men and women, boys and girls, can all play as equals at all levels. In that, I think it’s the perfect game for our School to champion.’