As we approach the 2020 election and as the 24-hour news cycle spits out more and more evidence of a nation divided, it seems a good time for a few healthy reminders.
The upcoming election and the issues on which it will be won and lost are coming up in class discussions, particularly in the middle school. Our teachers are skilled in guiding the conversations in developmentally appropriate ways for the age they teach. They are also working hard to help our students separate reality from fiction and fact from opinion. Our teachers have tapped into some wonderful resources to help guide the conversations in politics, civics, human rights, and more. The election also provides outstanding opportunities for lessons in math.
As I have spent time keeping up with the election coverage, particularly nationally, I am reminded and thankful that Westside School is a mission-driven, values-based organization. We are not political and do not endorse a political party or candidate. However, as progressive, heart-led educators, these are many of the values that we strive to live and work by:
- We believe in the power of education to create the future.
- We foster and raise up our students’ human spirit and imagination.
- We are committed to promoting inclusiveness, diversity, and cultural competence in our community. We respect our differences and understand that diversity makes our community a healthier place.
- We recognize each person possesses unique intelligences, talents, affinities, and challenges. We discuss, embrace, and learn about many aspects of diversity in the classroom: race, culture, religion, gender, identity, family structure, politics, learning styles, skills, challenges, and interests. We help children utilize this knowledge and to recognize and respond to issues of prejudice and injustice.
- We abhor racism in all forms and will teach anti-racist curriculum and practice.
- We believe children learn to become caring members of a global community by treating each other honestly, with respect and generosity of spirit.
- Our social and emotional curriculum helps students learn self-awareness and self-regulation, which in turn facilitate their interactions with and understanding of others. We help kids to recognize their emotions and needs and how to express and manage them appropriately.
- We teach children how to recognize and respond to the needs and emotions of others through the intentional teaching of empathy, gratitude, compassion, and kindness.
- We have no tolerance for bullying behavior, name-calling, or any conduct that belittles another human being.
- We believe children gain confidence through positive support and clear behavioral guidelines within a safe learning environment.
- We understand that the cultivation of problem-solving, innovative analytical thinking, and complex communication skills provides a strong foundation for lifelong success.
- We challenge our students to think critically, question authority, and consider nuance.
- We encourage children to explore, to push out of their comfort zones, to take risks, to learn from their mistakes, and to honor courage in themselves and each other.
- We believe in science, evidence-based inquiry, and academic discovery.
- We are concerned about climate change and the sustainability of the planet. We want our students to understand the complexity and interconnections in our world and motivate them and each other to work to make conscious choices about the use of the earth’s resources.
- We want children to experience the excitement of learning through academic achievement, creative expression, and cooperation with others.
Westside School is a school dedicated to growing good people who will make a positive difference in the world. Our teachers will be leading discussions and listening to their students and I trust their professionalism and judgment in how they engage. We continue to do all we can each day to support our students’ growth and to guide them to not only understand their world, but to want to create a better one.
Steve de Beer
Head of School