I Feel Free
Dear Friends -
Sometimes these Friday Notes just write themselves. I have just returned from yet another wildly successful day of skiing with our Upstairs students, and it is hard to sit and write about much else! I am thanking my stars that this Randolph tradition was created and sustained by the wise men and women of Randolph past and present, because it is a truly wonderful gift to our students, staff and adult friends (and to some grandfriends!). A special thanks goes out to our incredible teachers/organizers Val, Liz, Mike, and Anita for making these trips happen.
Even though I grew up in the ski hills of Vermont, these trips to Catamount ski area with our students have given me a deep appreciation for the never ending challenges, opportunities for personal growth, and binding social and communal interactions that are involved in the simple, yet brave act of learning to play with gravity by pointing a pair of skis down a hill. I lost count of the amount of times today that I watched a child discover they could do something they never thought they could do. At one point, I paused halfway down a trail with Barak and Elijah while we waited for the rest of our group to join us. Unprompted, Barak leaned towards me and said “You know what I like about skiing Ben? I feel free.” I chewed on that thought for a few moments and asked him what he meant. He replied “ I don’t know. I just feel like I can do anything when I am skiing”. There’s not much more for me to add to that...
I originally thought this note would be about something other than skiing, and wanted to finish by just touching on that separate topic briefly: I feel heartened by the increasingly mainstream public discussion of the benefits of approaches to education that are not focused on standardization and high stakes testing. Recently, an article from the Washington Post challenged the troublesome trend of expecting all children to learn to read at the same age (and more specifically, in Kindergarten). The article drew heavily from a recently released report that also cites studies showing greater long-term academic achievement and social/emotional adaptability for children involved in active, play-based, hands-on educational programs during their early years. It is my sincere hope that the continuing release of this kind of information leads to an educational system in which truly child-centered educational programs like Randolph School’s are the norm, not the exception. More on that to come...