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Ramblings about rain and things

December 13, 2018
By Seth Yocum- Head of School

Ramblings about rain and things

Thank the Lord for rain.  I realize that those who make their homes in wetter climates find it funny how we -arid land folks- respond to this life giving gift.  Let them laugh. Those of us who live lives where it’s bone dry know. Rain changes things, it cleans them. Rain gives you breath; it renews our spirits.  Thank the Lord for rain.

So funny how fast time flies.  Here we are, already well into December and only a few short weeks away from a long awaited winter break; where does the time go?  Though I love the ease of this time of year, I have to admit that the swiftness of time’s passage makes me a bit nervous. Have we accomplished enough?  Have we taken on too much? In truth, I’ve spent so much of the first few months placing names with faces, shaking hands, learning rhythms and systems, and overseeing the completion of our self-study, that I sometimes wonder what all I’ve been missing.  I’m not sure this situational angst will ever go away, but it leaves me with plenty of ‘what ifs’. Fortunately, we did have the foresight to set a path forward a while back.

The late curriculum theorist and educational philosopher, Elliot Eisner, says it best: “if the kind of mind that children can come to own is, in part, influenced by the kinds of opportunities they have to think, and if these opportunities are themselves defined by the kind of curriculum schools provide, then it could be argued that the curriculum itself is a kind of mind-altering device.  In this view it’s easy to see how curriculum decisions about content inclusion and content exclusion are of fundamental importance.” It is thoughts like these of Dr. Eisner’s that continue to roll around in my head, that continue to push me to envision new ways to mold minds, and fold new experiences into our curriculum. What we know about learning and education is this: the more opportunities to which we expose our children, the more they experience myriad aspects of their world, the more sense they can make of it.  And in the grand scheme of things, that matters. In large part, this is why we seek to enrich our electives with a hands on, project based approach to learning. We will ask kids to question and think like scientists, artists, engineers, and mathematicians; because the truth is, to ask the right question is often as important as it is to know the solution. When you hear us speak of STEAM, this is what we mean.

It is important that we make inquiry central to our educational ethos, and to the lives of our students.  It is the root of our inventive American identity: to question the limits of what is, to wonder about the rules and why, to redefine what is accepted or expected, to cut new paths into the future.  And though I am not quite certain when or where or why, we seemed to have strayed from this axiom, and lost ourselves amongst the weeds of matrices and measurements that can only tell us so much. It’s time to broaden our understanding of what is achievable at school, and what we expect from our kids.  We owe that to them.

As I’ve stated before, I could not be more honored, and cannot be more proud of the opportunities I’ve been afforded at St. Paul’s School.  As it is now the eve of the year, I look on to the next with excitement and anticipation. Although appropriate progress must always be measured, I am certain that the students and community of St. Paul’s School are poised and ready to grow.  I hope for the happiest of holiday to all of our families, and look forward to our continued work together in the new year.