On behalf of our teachers, thank you for taking the time to view the presentations shared last night during our first-ever Virtual Parent Teacher Night. While we would always prefer to meet with you in person, we hope that our recorded sessions answered some questions and opened doors for a year of learning together with our students. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next”, so I think we can all agree that it is important to get this right!
What is our ultimate educational goal this year? Back in the day, the purpose of education was to ensure the formation of students to understand their national civic values and to be willing and able to participate as responsible citizens. Today, this remains an important core value at Matthews Hall. While awareness of this takes many forms in an elementary school, we achieve it most meaningfully with children by connecting with them in the places they know best – the home and the classroom.
Today, both of these “educational settings” can be dominated by media messages of all sorts with an emphasis on many priorities that are beyond the tangible experience of the child. While the benefits of interconnectedness are indisputable, this new reality has also thrust our children into a global environment that can rob them of their childhood under the guise of “reaching out”. The challenge for us as parents and educators is to encourage such connection in a way that respects the “child’s world”.
Tools like the worldwide web and social media have made global “travel” possible for kids without ever leaving the comfort of their own rooms; however, the authentic outreach we desire for our children is not possible without first cultivating the field a little closer to home. It is for this reason that our Matthews Hall curriculum seeks to help students develop an understanding of connections between themselves and others beginning with familiar things, such as the rights and responsibilities at home and at school – the things of which “good citizens” are made.
“Thinking globally, acting locally” is a common phrase that invites elementary students to help shape the world around them by reaching out. The family is the first and most important means by which this desire to connect with others is imparted on kids. From the cradle, the powerful example of parents is observed and emulated by children. The desire to “serve and see others” extends outward from the home and is nurtured at school by teachers who model empathy, understanding, respect and responsibility.
These lessons are taught by precept and they are a team effort in any community. Whether our students will be collecting for a local food bank this year, sharing virtually with children in a distant land, or learning how to treat others as they would like to be treated on their own playground, their efforts will be authenticated when they see the adults in their lives (that’s all of us!) valuing this action.
One thing I’ve learned after thirty years in schools – and by observing my own four children for almost as long – is that many of the best lessons in life are caught, not taught.
The beginning of the school year is a perfect time to oil that catcher’s mitt!
Ric Anderson, Head of School