In a recent editorial reacting to the Common Core debate, I marveled at the most notable and obvious piece missing from this latest educational movement. In the article entitled, On Being a Real Person: The Missing Core of K-12, author Tom Vander Ark argues eloquently for schools that, “teach humanity” through social emotional learning and character development programs, noting poverty, standardized testing, and the decline in participation in traditional faith communities as significant contributors to an “unmoored”, preoccupied, and increasingly diverse society. The remainder of the article highlights several researched based programs to address the social emotional needs of our student population, a description of “good schools” as goal and value oriented, and the need for better curriculum and instructional units to address “soft skills” deficits. But, what I found most compelling was how Vander Ark ended his piece by quoting others who have ingeniously identified that students need a format rooted in purpose that attaches them to a cause greater than themselves and that holds them accountable for their actions. Was research really necessary to come to this conclusion?
The steady discipline of intimate friendship with Jesus results in men becoming like Him.
~ Harry Emerson Fosdick
What a relief to know that there are no small school limitations that will keep us from the greatest character development curriculum ever written. A common core curriculum may bring benefits or detriments, I plead the fifth at the moment, but even the best curriculum in the world will miss the the mark when it comes to helping our children be more human as was intended by their creator. For being more human is to be more like Christ. Separating humanness from the standard given to us in Jesus defeats the purpose of the endeavor. I will be forever grateful to educate children in an environment that seeks to integrate faith with learning. It is a privilege and a blessing and, in my opinion, a powerful model for helping children, “become real people”.
By Andrea L. Bergstrom, Head of School & Grammar School Principal