Philosophy of Education
The essential work of schools is to provide a rigorous academic program. A "rigorous" academic program fosters hard work, invention, and creativity. It sets high expectations for the mastery of fundamental skills in problem solving, reasoning, and expression. In a rigorous academic environment, students approach their work with seriousness, with purpose, and with the joy and satisfaction that comes from discovery and renewal. In an atmosphere of trust and confidence, students are motivated and supported in their efforts to reach beyond their grasp. Yet schools must do more than what is academically essential.
Beyond the march towards achievement and success, too often judged through a material lens, schools must take care to guide students along the path of personal growth. A school that values open communication, honest self-expression, and respect in the classroom is best able to aspire to these ideals in the lives of its students. Our students must learn to discover ways to find their own promise and their place in the world. We must guide them towards developing meaningful relationships in the broadest sense. Through relationships forged with dedicated faculty and staff, a student's self-and-other awareness becomes part of the learning process. In meaningful relationships, students are challenged as much by the diversity of opinion as they are by their own personal search for the truth. Diversity of all kinds helps students learn to appreciate, respect, and embrace others. Beyond what is written and what is said, the spirit of any school lies in the integrity of its relationships.
Schools with rich and varied programs recognize that there are multiple pathways towards personal and community growth. As all good schools struggle to balance traditional ideals of well-roundedness with the increasing pressure of specialization, the expressed values of the community - the education of the "whole child" - must be approached through thoughtful and realistic requirements across the disciplines. Schools must maintain their commitment to the educational value of broad exposure and create time and space for students to pursue their talents and interests progressively.
"Extra-curriculars" are part of the essential work of schools. Through our common purpose and our shared experiences in the classroom, in the arts, on the playing fields, and in residence, students and faculty seize on opportunities to teach and to learn about self and others. Across the curriculum, students learn to take healthy risks. They learn about triumph, success, and failure. They learn about difference. They learn the meaning and value of competition, discipline, responsibility, and sacrifice. Students learn to strive together - and they have fun in the process. Together, students, faculty, and staff create a community of support, of passion, of respect, and of love.
More than ever, a school must provide time and space for students to develop habits of character - to face challenges, to be accountable and compassionate, and to treat others with respect. As students move towards independence, they must also be mindful of their inter-dependence. The highest order of a school is to develop habits that will shape the students' future lives and help them to become good citizens. The moral development of students is the greatest goal for a school and the greatest gift it can give its young people.