Recently I challenged myself to boil down my educational philosophy to a single sentence or phrase. Actually, the restrictions were tighter. Pare it to a tweet. I came up with what actually amounts to less than half a tweet (at least per number of characters):
Inspiring a person to become a better version of him- or herself.
Then came part two of the challenge: identifying and articulating three primary ways in which a great school can strive to accomplish this.
· Great schools reveal possibilities and opportunities. In seeing them, students glimpse what they in turn can become. They meet people—real and imagined, present day and historical—and determine whom they wish to emulate and whom they scorn. Students are exposed to new ideas and models and minds. By experimenting in numerous areas, students discover the mélange of strengths and weaknesses that constitute the unique presence they bring to the world. As all these experiences germinate inside a student, they begin to flower in a vision of the person her or she desires to become.
· Great schools connect students to the infinitum. All civilization is, in essence, the ever-expanding evolution of all that which has come before the present. All the tradition, all the lore, all the claimed invention and discovery—it all builds on itself in ways that propel human culture forward. Students should engage in the ongoing conversation. More importantly, just as they see what they can become, students begin to conceptualize what and how they can create their own contribution to the future.
· Great schools invite students to play joyfully in an infinite game. Per game theory, finite games have immutable rules and boundaries, with a clear end and definite winner. Think your typical board game or sport. An infinite game, on the other hand, involves constant morphing so that the game keeps developing. The players must adapt to whatever emerges. In fact, players must respond nimbly to keep the game going and to thrive therein. Think real life.
Too idealistic? Perhaps. But endless hope fuels great education. And a great education helps a person discover his or her place and purpose.
What would be your tweet?