I have written quite a lot about the aspirations of independent schools, and how these are ultimately the expressions of schools' founders, usually idealists for whom embodying a philosophy of education into a school of their own creation was an act of extraordinary hope.
We must be clear in our missions and values and clear about representing worthy choices, not just comfortable opt-outs, for families and children; it's not enough just to educate our students--we need to add real value, cultural and even moral value, to society. This is a tall order, and not all of our constituents may fully understand it. But it's what we must do.
Lockdowns are the uninvited guest, the evil witch, at the banquet of "21st-century learning." Some of you, Gentle Readers, have known this for years, but for others of us it's a new thing: post-Newtown, post-Virginia Tech, post-Columbine.
I believe that independent schools are at last starting to pass through the barriers of our own history, and that there is a growing realization that teachers must be what so many school mission statements extol: lifelong learners. There should no longer be excuses or ways for teachers to opt out of professional learning that will make them more effective in engaging, challenging, and educating their students.
Dewey was not soft on learning and demanded purposeful and well-trained teachers, and he believed education should above all prepare students for informed and thoughtful engagement with their world.
The evolution of "tech support" to curriculum and program experts to influential thought leaders is, to me one of the cooler developments in the world of school administration in the last couple of decades. That so many tech folks are now leaders in our schools is yet another, somewhat unexpected, manifestation of the power of technology in education.
As a society we have the know-how to teach every kid well. We have the wealth to create schools in which every student is known, valued, and educated. Know-how and wealth. What's missing, of course, is the will.
A lofty mission statement and compelling standards on a website or in a handbook do not guarantee much of anything. Standards, whether the Common Core or an enumeration of the qualities of an effective teacher, mean nothing unless their working significance is clarified.
Like Wonder Bread, maybe the Common Core Standards are too well wrapped, whether in flags, promises, or some more commercial or sinister guise. At the same time, they may simply be the lowest common denominator, educational white bread, far more squishy than nourishing.
In the service of identifying some common perspectives, I'd like to offer up a small sampler of independent school bloggers--teachers, administrators, thought leaders--whose regular writing has more than occasional relevance to education as a whole.