Earlier this year I wrote about Race to Nowhere, a movie that gave us a lot to think about in regards to the issues associated with education in the United States. It is evident that we all have concerns about the welfare of our children and their long-term needs in and out of the classroom. The movie encourages us to think about different factors that influence our children’s experiences and development, such as the nature of instruction in school, their psychological well-being, and our expectations for them.
I am a strong believer of the fact that academic success and psychological welfare are linked. We all want our kids to achieve and be ready for life.
As part of our strategic planning process, we have discussed these issues here at school. These discussions have reinforced our commitment to delivering a balanced education where we deliberately promote intellectual intelligence and emotional intelligence through a blend of academics, arts and physical education.
On another front, in September 2011, we are becoming a “one-to-one community” in Middle School both in terms of individual computer use by students and differentiated instruction. We have understood that choosing this path is not simply about each middle school student having a personal computer; it is mostly about improving teaching and learning.
As we think about the future, and knowing that we’re educating our students for jobs which may not yet exist, we must be sure that we teach them to think critically and take risk, and provide them with a set of relevant 21st century skills. This is top on the lists of many thinkers about education, including Tony Wagner, author of The Global Achievement Gap,whose talk about the seven skills students will need in the future is compelling.
With the access that children have to computers, and to the Internet, what becomes most important is learning what to do with the myriad of facts and information that are available to us not only all over the Internet, but also through all media. For us, this is not new. This is what we have been teaching for 30 years.
For our children to function effectively in a more complex society, we must continue to push them beyond their level of comfort. We must respect them for who they are to help them become the people they should be, and the person that we expect them to be. But first and foremost, we need to do it together.