Each week at leader in Ladue, or with connections to the community gets to express his/her personal opinions on the Ladue-Frontenac Patch. This week, Dr. Matthew Gould, head of Community School in Ladue tells us "What's on His Mind."
For eight years I have watched my two children learn and grow in the cozy environment of Community School. Perhaps it is because one of my children is preparing to graduate this June and launch into an important new chapter of her life that I find myself reflecting on my hopes and dreams for both my children.
What I want for my children is what every parent wants for their children. I want them to be their best selves. I want them to appreciate their own talents and gifts and to recognize that they are not perfect. I want them to love and be loved.
And I want them to find the career that fits them best. A career in which they can earn enough money to support themselves and their families and, at the same time, find fulfillment (maybe not everyday fulfillment, but fulfillment over the long haul) in their daily work.
I really don’t need my kids to go to Harvard or its equivalent. I want them to find schools and jobs that fit who they are as people – schools and jobs that “sing” to hearts and souls.
What do I worry about? I worry that there are not enough schools that honor children in all of their wonderful complexity. As our nation’s schools rush headlong into “accountability” and “standardized assessments,” I fear we have lost sight of what education is all about – nurturing the spirit of childhood. Sure, it is essential that children learn how to read and to compute and to write with complexity.
In addition, children need to be challenged in school. But children should love to learn. They should find joy in learning experiences. After all, learning something new is exciting and fun.
But, more than all of this, children should be honored and respected for who they are as people. All kids are different and all kids should have an opportunity to shine in school. They should be challenged to be their best selves. The spirit of childhood must be kept alive – children should find joy in the daily experience of learning.
I believe my children are unique, intelligent, and creative young people. But I have to tell you that all children are. Where education has to go next is personalizing itself to bring out that uniqueness, that intelligence, that creativity in children. To quote Albert Einstein, “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”
My dream for my children – for all children – is that they be so fortunate as to encounter teachers who personalize education, who awaken that joy of learning, who honor their childhood.