Pat Basset published this week a very useful list of the seven myths about independent schools; ourAdmissions Director was so impressed that she asked me whether NAIS would publish them in an attractive format which we can use to send out to prospective families. The myths are, as follows:
Independent schools are (1) only for the rich, (2) not the ‘real world,’ (3) unaffordable, (4) lacking in diversity, (5) only for kids with social problems, (6) only for really smart kids, and (7) not part of the community.
Excellent points, all. Pat is especially good about how our schools are not, and should not, be part of the “real world:” they are, and should be, better than the ‘real world:’
The real world is, sad to say, unsafe, unstructured, and — worse than values-neutral — values bereft. The independent school culture is, ironically, counter-cultural in the sense of establishing a values matrix that runs counter to the child-toxic values of the popular culture and amorality and immorality that surrounds us.
I’d love to see Pat add an eight myth to the list, and I know it is one he is very attuned to: “independent schools are (educationally) preserving a tradition of excellence, perpetuating a legacy of learning.” We need to militate against the public perception (see the Simpsons!) that we are stuffy traditionalists, that our schools are your father’s Cadillacs. Instead, as Pat is doing with his public speaking on Dan Pink’s work, we need to reposition ourselves as educational innovators akin to High Tech High and the like: that we are where students are best learning 21st century skills of critical thinking, real-world problemsolving, innovation and creativity, and collaboration.