Asked by my Head of School to quickly come up with ideas to be incorporated into a Statement of School Philosophy, here are the thoughts that came to my mind (in no particular order of importance):
1. That we ask of the kids that they bring forth that which they get in touch with during Meeting for Worship. In other words, we are trying to interact with them on the deeper, or spiritual level, but also are continually asking them to bring forth the best part of themselves – that which is transcendent and inherently good.
2. We act on the premise that developing a positive and meaningful relationship with the person before us is a necessary beginning to working with the student, and that the relationship is an important end in itself, not just a means to working with that student.
3. That who you are is independent of, and more important than, your academic accomplishments specifically and your accomplishments in general.
4. That who you are at this moment is more important than who you may or may not become.
5. That “Way Opens.”
6. That preconceived notions of how adolescents learn or what they should be can often blind us to the importance of what is before us: the Beauty, Truth and potential that a child may be holding out for us to understand.
7. That Education without Risk is Training.
8. That we learn best by doing, and that the doing must be meaningful – to someone.
9. That the Community and the Individual cannot be separated out and pitted against one another, or ranked as one being more important than the other, but they are different aspects of the same Godly expression and must be treated with equal respect.
10. That compassion is a virtue that must be taught, and practiced.
11. That being “Progressive” doesn’t necessarily mean rejecting established truths, ideas or notions, but that it does mean thoughtfully searching for and adopting what can be seen as the “best” practices, truths, ideas and notions currently available.
12. That teaching someone how to be good at something is the best way to make them feel good about themselves.
13. That, just as accepting the norm without question is irresponsible, so is embracing difference in the same manner.
14. That rules and policies can be helpful, and just as often can block real understanding and communication.
15. That our understanding is inherently limited, and that we trust Way, or, that we are humble enough to accept that the intention of the universe and how it is unfolding is beyond our grasp, and so we must be very careful to make judgments and cast decisions which may be counter to that unfolding, and that we best avoid this (or, put in a more positive sense, we best make decisions that are sympathetic to this unfolding) when we make them from deep and powerful inner reflection.