Opening address from Head of School, Charlie Spencer, for the 2017 All School Welcome:
On this unique evening that brings together our adult Center School community each year, I like to take a moment to share something I’m thinking about, relating to the work of educating and raising our children.
Of course, with all that’s going on in the world right now, maybe creeping into our children’s lives: wildfires, hate, earthquakes, addiction, death, fake news, climate change, racism, cynicism, depression, anxiety… yikes! You get it… we feel this almost primal urge to just comfort and hunker on down.
Yet, when I really think about how we might shore our kids up, prepare them to cope, to manage, to be resilient in this sometimes brutal world, really, we need to make sure they are just plain STURDY.
As a progressive school we believe that kids learn best through experience and testing things out for themselves. So, the irony is that in order to shore them up, we need to simultaneously step back a bit. I will admit, that being needed, protecting my kids, by huddling up, while the world is in shambles is tempting, but Kahlil Gibran’s famous poem The Prophet suggests we consider, instead, that:
Your children are not your children…
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,For they have their own thoughts.You may house their bodies but not their souls,For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.You may strive to be like them,but seek not to make them like you.For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
Kids have mistakes to make, and fears to face, and we need to let them so that they can seize those tomorrows. They need practice solving problems. You know… like: “Mom’s busy, I’m hungry– I can make a piece of toast!” “The dog’s eating all the shoes— I’ll walk the dog!” “Dad’s lost his keys again: I can help him find them.”
Above all, as counter intuitive as it may sometimes feel to me, we must make sure our Center Schoolers are able to tolerate some discomfort in order to achieve a goal or to help someone else. Let’s face it, memorizing math facts is hard, waiting for a turn is hard, sharing a toy, practicing guitar or gymnastics, standing up to a bully, or doing homework can be downright painful. But they CAN do it! Trust me!