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December 7, 2023   From the Head of School

What is the Purpose of School?

Modified from Remarks from Grandparent and Special Friends Day 2023

Think about when you were in 4th grade or 2nd grade. Do you remember your teacher? Do you remember what you did in class? Do you remember your friends? Do you remember what you did at that time and if it prepared you for what you do now as an adult?

Students in 4th grade will graduate college in 2036. We do not know much about that year, we can hope and even plan to be ready, but there are many unknowns. We think each day what we need to do to help our students, our 4th graders, to be ready for when they leave college. We also wonder about what the goal or the purpose of school is today. 

How do we do this? We ask questions… 

Should it just be one step in a process to “prepare” kids to be adults in 2036?

Should it be as simple as everyone should be able to read and write?

Should we train them to be ready to adopt artificial intelligence into their day, to adapt their environment to the needs of their employers, family, and themselves?

What do you think the purpose of school was when you were in 4th grade? 

Was it simply the industrial model designed to train students to work until they heard a bell and then stop, take a break, and return to work? Was it effective in preparing you for your future? Was it any fun?

We think about this and other questions guiding what we do daily to help these young people. We worry about the “Factory Model of Education” and school being useful as a means of preparing students to be productive workers in our society. However, we need to continually think and question the experiences students have and what purpose we are striving for because we live in a world that is very different from when we were in 4th grade.

We also need to be mindful of the world around us, here in Philly, but in the country and around the world…to plan for whatever comes next, to help our students expect the unexpected, and to be ready for the Unknown Unknowns. This is part of what School is today.