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Meet music teacher: Dr Anton Luiten

As a new addition to the AIS teaching team, Dr Anton Luiten’s experience with the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum is a huge asset to the school. His educational philosophy is based not only on in-depth subject knowledge but also on providing an environment to broaden his students' worldview as he challenges them to excel.

Growing up in Western Australia, Dr Anton Luiten always knew he would one day teach in Asia. The passionate, knowledgeable, and musically gifted educator found his calling early when, as an enthusiastic five-year-old, he helped to support and educate his newly adopted Vietnamese sister and inspire her love of music.

Since then, he has moved from strength to strength with a career that has spanned a wide range of teaching and leadership roles across Australia, Hong Kong and Japan. His professionalism, humour and caring approach empower his students to exceed their expectations and maximise their potential.

Anton, what specific values and qualities attracted you to AIS?
Thanks to my family's connection to Vietnam, I’ve always felt a strong pull toward working here. But more specifically, I was struck by the obvious community spirit at AIS, the personalisation I was afforded, the welcoming nature of the staff and the school’s potential for growth.

I’m ultimately looking for a school that is open to change, provides opportunities for all to grow and, most importantly, places students and staff at the centre of decision-making, which aligns well with the values and vision at AIS.

You have a particularly strong background within the IB curriculum. Can you share some of your experiences?
My first involvement with the programme was in 2003, when I assisted in the accreditation process at my school in Japan. Since then, I’ve become an IB examiner, which subsequently developed into roles as Workshop Leader in the Asia-Pacific region for Music, the Extended Essay (in music), and International Mindfulness. And I’m now a Workshop Leader Trainer – a more generic position to train IB Diploma teachers in all subjects.

These opportunities led me to introduce student-focussed online workshops in IB music technology and begin a successful and well-subscribed Facebook page for IB music teachers where I respond to questions and share global best practices.

More recently, I have been producing material for the new IB music curriculum. Plus, I am currently contributing to the InThinking website, which will assist IB Diploma music teachers and students with online resources. The scheduled launch date for the site is early 2023.

Tell us why the IB curriculum is such an excellent programme across all year levels.
With a wide array of individual projects, there is recognition and scope for students to explore their own areas of interest. Of course, teachers need to facilitate student journeys, but fundamentally the IB programme has identified this need for personal exploration and contoured a curriculum that allows for these pursuits. The IB model of "inquiry-action-reflection" permeates how content is delivered and offers an appropriate blueprint for life.

With your focus on IB Diploma students, what are the most rewarding aspects of teaching?
I most enjoy seeing students succeed. This can take many forms – from engaging with a new concept to realising their passions and future direction. It’s about broadening each student’s thinking, opening up the world and helping them navigate through it. Motivation plays a large part as well. It can be extremely gratifying if teachers can create interest in an unknown area or one where students initially had some hesitation.

So how do you connect with students to make your lessons engaging and enjoyable?
It is imperative that a teacher knows their students as this is the first step to forming a connection. By understanding their mindset, you can structure information in a way that better illuminates the materials. For example, if you are investigating a concept that may be hard for your students to grasp because it’s esoteric or abstract, it’s best to ground that information in something they know or do.

I think also that a passion for your subject should come shining through. Teachers have incredible power to transform thinking, interest and learning if they display enthusiasm and belief in their chosen field.

What can we expect to see from you in the coming academic year?
I plan to implement strategies that ensure my students work at their capacity, introduce activities that cater for diversity, and provide extension tasks for those who excel. I want to ensure all learning experiences are meaningful and that I can contribute to a thriving community of discussion and problem-solving.

I encourage my students to question and advance their critical thinking via the Socratic method, articulate the importance of planning, and appreciate different perspectives. In line with one of the IB learner profile attributes, I cannot emphasise enough the importance of stepping out of one's comfort zone and attempting new approaches to tackling an issue. Through these endeavours, character, respect, and integrity will be developed.