A View from the Middle - Middle School
Welcome to A View from the Middle by Corinna Crafton, Head of Middle School, a blog featuring interesting educational observations and commentary.
Dr. Crafton will be posting here regularly. Please be sure to scroll down to read more and check back frequently for updates.
Visitor’s Perspective Sheds Light on Our Strengths
A visiting student recently remarked how “open” and “interested” students here at W+H seemed in their classes. When I invited him to say a bit more, he shared that he felt welcomed to “join the discussion” and saw students asking “big” questions of their teachers. He seemed a bit surprised that teachers welcomed diverging ideas and opinions. In that moment, I understood what the young man was witnessing and why it may have so impressed him. He was watching engagement in action. Students at W+H are not only invited to engage, inquire, wonder, and challenge, but are expected to do so. Perhaps this young man has not had that experience in his school and found it an exciting possibility.
We must prepare our students to grow into global citizens, capable and ready to venture off to college and beyond with the necessary skills needed to tackle complicated, chronic issues. Part of that preparation requires teachers to provide the practice for delving deeply into topics, invite discussion, struggle through disagreement, and reach an understanding of the perspectives of others, even if we do not always agree with one another. Civil discourse is a skill and life habit that requires careful cultivation. Vital too are activities that include collaboration amongst students and lessons that do not assume one correct answer, for we know that the most weighty issues facing our country and our world have no easy answers.
I was reminded by this young visitor’s observations of our responsibility to help each other honor and value our special community. It is true that will never all agree with each other all the time. I propose that the very fact we do hold different opinions is the sign of a healthy and vibrant community of interested and interesting minds. Indeed, what we model is what we promote. When students see the adults in their community exchange ideas and opinions, they grow more comfortable in sharing their own. When we encourage active listening to the ideas of others, students are taking their responsibility as citizens of our community seriously.Perhaps the young man who visited our campus recently and remarked at the openness he witnessed in the classroom was observing this respect for “the other” that we must hold dear. I am reminded by his words of the very precious resource we have here at W+H: each other and one that requires tending and nurturing each day in the smallest of interactions we have with one another.
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