This blog was originally published by EdWeek as part of their "Teaching Ahead: A Roundtable" feature.
It was the first day of my 2009-2010 Humanities 7 class and I was explaining how the course works—how students design all the units around their own questions, with opportunities for both group work and individual research. One student raised her hand and said, "This sounds great and all, but how will it help us prepare for the MCAS?" "Oh," I said. "We're an independent school. We don't have to do the MCAS." The students burst into applause, shouting and cheering and clapping and raising their fists in celebration as one student from out of state asked quietly, "What's the MCAS?"
When the appointment of Dr. John Chubb to the presidency of the National Association of Independent Schools was first announced, there was a certain level of concern expressed by a number of people over his views on education. To his very great credit, Dr. Chubb responded quickly and graciously, even talking extensively over the phone with Kim Sivick, now the Director of Professional and Organizational Development for the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools, and with me as well. Kim and I both blogged about our respective conversations, she here and I here. Among other encouraging points Dr. Chubb then made was the desire to determine and facilitate policy directions desired by the membership.
All Girls Education,
Recently, I had the chance to touch base with Sally, our Head of School, about some of the more political blogs I've posted here recently. I wanted to thank her, because I know that by no means would every school offer me the degree of freedom that I have here. She told me she views this school as being about finding one's authentic voice, which was in one sense an eye-opening moment for me. Of course, that is a major part of our mission statement for what we do for our students, and of course, role modeling is always an important part of what we teach. But explicitly allowing and even encouraging adults to find their own authentic voices as part of a full-school holistic model? At that point, we are truly making our mission statement a way of life rather than just a lofty ideal we may or may not even be able to remember if asked.
Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School,