This week we were working to complete some videography to showcase our new addition and future phases of our campus master plan. It was a welcome opportunity to capture the excitement and appreciation of students and teachers during the first term in our new space. Although I was not present for all the recording sessions, I stopped by now and then and was so pleased to hear the enthusiasm being expressed by the participants. Themes like “looking forward to school each morning” and the “bright and spacious” corridors and classrooms were common, along with my personal favourite, “ a fun place to learn!” Given the equally beautiful weather on offer this week, I have to say that hearing staff and students characterize our school in those terms gave me a lift during a fall of restrictions, recommendations, and criticisms.
Our school continues to be vigilant and responsive in finding the right balance for students as we work cautiously through the restrictions and directives demanded by a public health crisis. As parents will already know from their own experience, perfection in managing masks, physical distancing, and sanitizing is well-nigh impossible. A walk through most places serving large numbers of human beings will be evidence enough – the grocery store, shopping locations, restaurants, offices, and hospitals. I have yet to see one that can claim perfection in balancing all the demands required for compliance. And yet we are all trying.
When it comes to large groups of children in schools, the challenge is, perhaps, even tougher. Play, sport, caring, and learning are vital social enterprises and not an “exact science”. They are also essential services for the healthy bodies, minds, and spirits of our students. And so we continue to monitor, supervise, and support your children at school each day recognizing that perfection is not achievable.
Here at Matthews Hall, imperfect teachers serve imperfect children, from imperfect families, in an imperfect world filled with imperfect people. If we were all perfect, what possible need would we have for school? As I watch, look, and listen to people each week, I am attentive to evidence that we are not losing sight of the real purpose of childhood – which is more than just the gathering of knowledge and skills for social and independent survival. I am watching for evidence that our students are growing strong, healthy, and confident with the love and encouragement of their families and an extended community of caring adults.
As we work to preserve childhood from a creeping form of “adultification” that increasingly impacts every aspect of their day (…especially in these strange times), we must strive to protect the short time our children have to be kids. We all basically know adultification is a problem and it can be a difficult cycle to break, fraught as it is with anxiety about the future and other things we cannot control.
Maybe if we also just stepped back to see the world from a child’s point of view, it would help all of us?
Some of this adultification comes from an inattention to what makes kids tick and a profound lack of faith in their capacity to know about important things.
An erudite person once said this: “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”
In addition to his work in contemporary physics, Mr. Einstein may have been onto more than one big thing!
Head of School