Dear Campus School Families,
Educators sometimes find themselves caught between false opposites. At my
former school in NYC, parents applying to our school often thought a school
could be either challenging or nurturing, that it was one or the other. We made
the argument that it is not an either/or proposition. A great school must
challenge its students but it balances this with the right amounts of nurturing
support. In fact, students truly learn when they know there is a supportive
safety net beneath them; this creates the condition where students can take
risks, try new and difficult learning, and grow and develop.
In schools where this balance between challenge and support is not well
calibrated two things happen. Not enough challenge means that learning is left
on the table. Too much rigor and students become stressed and not stretched,
victims of what Alfie Kohn calls the "cult of rigor."
In excellent schools this balance between challenge and support is calibrated
by teachers for each student. This is what happens when children are truly
known by their teachers. And it is here where the Campus School shines. Our
teachers know their students - know when to challenge them, when to dial
things back, when to give an encouraging word, when to stretch them.
Think back to your own education. Weren't your best teachers those who truly
knew you? I know mine were.
And the power of a student being known by a masterful teacher seems absent
from much of the recent debate about educational reform, where the emphasis
has been on standardized tests and data driven technology tools, as if
education were some technical problem to be solved, a widget to be tweaked,
instead of what it is - the meaningful engagement between teachers and the
students they know.