The Woodlawn Difference – Part One
The mission of Woodlawn School is to produce independent, lifelong learners who are responsible, contributing members of a diverse, global society.
I am going to write a series of blogs to support the concept of Woodlawn School being an unique independent school doing unique things. I am responding to a parental request that I be specific about how our school is different and what that means, and I will start with the mission.
“The mission of Woodlawn School is
to produce independent, lifelong learners …”
As a contrast to the typical school program, the Woodlawn focus is “lifelong,” implying a purpose to teach young people how to learn not the traditional what to learn.
And to continue,
“who are responsible, contributing members
of a diverse, global society.”
The words here imply an effort to participate in a sustainable global society and to make a contribution. To accomplish this part of the mission the student needs to have confidence in his ability to make a difference, not just move to the next level of education.
I find that the students at Woodlawn become self- confident learners by their complex participation in a community that requires their engagement, and that is the key to a difference between our school and many of the other schools around that focus on different goals.
What are these goals that produce such a different result? A few that come to mind are: focus on content and not engagement; an attempt to be all things to all students; large extracurricular programs that showcase a school as a system, not a place for the joy of learning; and teaching to the tests.
Teaching to the test to get ready for the next learning experience not a focus on the current moments of the student’s life. Joy of the present is lost in the preparation for the future.
What happens at Woodlawn is unique to the place and as the late Ted Sizer, founder of the Coalition of Essential Schools once said: “No two good schools are ever alike.”
That is why I have often said, from the point of view of being in many different school environments as a member of the community or as a consultant, that Woodlawn is one of the most significant learning communities that I have ever seen.
It is not like other schools.
TO BE CONTINUED