Inheriting the New Revolution

Dear Academy Families,

Pat Bassett is retiring as the President of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), after leading this important organization in innovative and provocative ways for 12 years. One of many reasons he will be much missed involves his cogent and elegant articles in NAIS’s Independent Schoolmagazine.  His last article in the Summer 2013 edition captures this wise spirit.

Pat reminds us that revolutionaries are dreamers, at the same time that revolutions are dangerous and hard. He looks back to draw lessons from two historic examples – the American Revolution and the Civil Rights Movement, with Madison and Martin Luther King, Jr., serving for his revolutionaries – and then he looks forward to the revolution we sit smack in the middle of – the Internet and technologies. Who are the heroes of this third, current revolution? Teachers in independent schools, according to Pat Bassett. He sees this sea change in pedagogy being led by dreamers and risk-takers in our very midst.

In describing these cataclysmic changes in education, Pat highlights the following areas:

Old Model                               Example        ____             New Model                              Example

Knowing memorizing facts, pen/paper test                    Doing demonstrating knowledge/skills

Teacher-centered text-driven lecture                            Student-centered seminars/”labs”

Individual compete for grades, honor roll, rank         Team collaborate in project-learning

Consume info knowledge has short life                         Construct meaning long-term knowledge

Schools place bound; classroom box                                 Networks No  borders; digital; expeditions

Single sourcing dated textbook                                        Crowd sourcing multiple experts, Wikipedia

These concepts raise much to ponder, as Pat Bassett’s work always provokes deep thought. And these concepts also suggest much to appreciate that we already are working on at the Academy, as well as new ideas to consider.

With exams and Awards Day next week (you are all welcome to join us in Marsh Chapel on Friday, June 7, at 1 p.m.), we are about to head off into summer. I wish you and your families well, and look forward to hearing of the many adventures and jobs and reflections of our students…who will inherit this new, third revolution and I am confident will make it as successful as the prior two!

Warm regards,
James S. Berkman
Head of School