The school’s goal is to help children grow strong and happy. In doing so we prize certain abilities: the abilities to think, to demonstrate essential academic skills, to be curious and resourceful, to communicate with oneself and with others, to trust, to be grateful, to wonder. And we prize certain qualities: honesty, humility, empathy, and compassion.
To preserve or achieve these attributes, we believe that one must possess a sense of worth and a sense of belonging – a child who feels alienated or unsure will be neither a good citizen nor an efficient learner. Therefore the school’s first concern is to be a family, so that students may be secure enough to be able to appraise their own strengths and weaknesses, to risk succeeding and failing.
We believe that confidence derives partly from experience, therefore that students should have opportunities to participate in many and varied activities – academic, artistic, social, athletic – intimately and realistically. A class overnight camping trip is as integral to the curriculum as is long division, care of a salamander in the science lab as germane as learning how to study for a test. Students need not only to read and discuss plays, but write and act them; not only to listen to symphonies, but play instruments; not only to participate in sports, but compete in them. There should be time to practice as well as study democracy; time to teach, as well as be taught.
Students also need opportunities to make choices: simple choices – whether or not to attend carefully to today’s test review; and complex choices – whether or not to show disapproval of an irresponsible act by an important friend. They need freedom, often encouragement, to make such choices. Mistakes need to have as realistic consequences as possible, yet if adult intervention is required, it should be forth-right, but also sympathetic and optimistic. Similarly, responsible conduct should be rewarded as naturally as possible, but when necessary, with adult confirmation.
Finally, we recognize that the most sensible and ambitious philosophy is achieved only by parents and teachers who maintain high expectations of themselves and their children, who are patient, and who are not discouraged by failure, or afraid to love.