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Seek First The Common Good
This school is deliberately kept small, so that our students can operate in the extended family or community environment that we believe contributes to their well-rounded social and personal development. No school however, regardless of size, is spared the legal, bureaucratic, financial, personnel and other stresses that are heaped upon all schools. There are easier ways to make a living.
Good teachers will happily endure these pressures if they feel they have a fulfillable, worthwhile goal of betterment for their students. We need to know that we are giving our students something special, something that makes their young lives more satisfying, as well as better preparing them for their future.
We have no interest in seeing students merely serving time. We want to give them a faith in themselves and a commitment to society that makes education a personal growth journey.
The wider culture within which our school operates has shifted over the past 25 years. There has developed a noticeable trend towards a more individualistic, isolationist, self-centred, fear-dominated, blame-everyone-else, litigious mentality. Some schools, we believe, now pander too much to negative, individualistic fears and no longer openly champion empowerment, courage, goodwill and generosity of spirit.
We, the founders and leaders of this school, embrace our vocation because we are inspired and motivated by the opportunity to help raise children to become happy, capable and caring adults – people the world is the better for having.
We recognise now that, deep within the vision of this school, there has been a concept that has not been aired abroad for many years – but it is an idea without which any society must decline. Let us name it. The word is service.
If we do our work properly, the children we help raise will not merely seek their own advantage, but will serve society in some beneficial way.
The most vital influence of a school on the development of a young mind is not the official syllabus, things such as English and Maths. It is its hidden curriculum, the values that are inevitably imparted by the everyday lifestyle of the school, by how problems are solved, by how its people deal with people.
To uphold and maintain our school’s worthwhile reason for existence then, we introduce a practical rule of thumb: seek first the common good. This is entirely compatible with our motto: People Before Things, spelling out more clearly which people we are talking about – not just me, but us.
Yes, the ultimate goal of all our efforts is the well-being of the human individual.
In the past, too many children have been raised as pawns, expendable servants of the social order. The ends justified the means. Our society has rejected that notion. We now value individuality and personal space.
But we have over-reacted. We must not forget that we are still at core a social animal. Our happiness, our sanity and our survival are ultimately founded upon our willingness and ability to work together. A school should teach its children that it is in co-operation that we thrive, not in self-centred isolation. The end is personal happiness, but we achieve this through community. At last, our school’s middle name has come into clear focus. We want to be known as a pro-community school.
It will follow that when there is a co-operation problem, a challenge for a child in working with teachers or working with other children, we will not automatically seek to skirt the difficulty by pandering to the unreasonable whims of child. We will not sweep problems of sociality under the carpet. No, we will look for the proper, ethical, community-minded, generous-spirited solution to the problem. And we will prevail on the children involved to appreciate and pursue the common good. Where necessary, we will seek parental support for our stance.
This is not a change of direction for us. It is our becoming more conscious of what we have always tried to do. ;Now we have a clearer position from which to communicate these values to all comers.
School is a microcosm of the wider society. An essential part of a school’s duty is to impart, through its hidden curriculum, the skills and values required for society to function as a viable body. These are the personal virtues of reason, consideration and caring – a mentality which takes responsibility for the overall success of the group task at hand.
We will not support in our students an approach to problems which begins and ends with What about me? Yes, people should look after themselves and learn how to look after themselves. Such self-management skills are definitely on our agenda. But our scale of values places these concerns in a different order. Most of our woes, our individualistic anxieties, will disappear when we adopt, as a general principle for problem-solving, an everyday rule of thumb: seek first the common good. POC