Gray Matters (March 2019)
I recently took a brief trip down memory lane, taking time to look back on my tenure as Head of School by rereading Gray Matters. In reviewing my 100+ posts, I gained new perspectives, was reminded of earlier insights, and enjoyed reflecting on my nine year journey. I frequently focused on several themes that clearly speak to our commitment to mission and philosophy: community, inquiry and curiosity, play, social/emotional growth and development, critical thinking.
Here is some of what I rediscovered:
“Our immediate community is indeed special, but what makes Capitol Hill Day School unique is how our field education program ties our curriculum together with people and places throughout DC and beyond, helping our children see themselves as a part of a broader community. In no other program are kids regularly engaged in learning opportunities at Smithsonian Museums, The Kennedy Center, Politics and Prose Bookstore, the Arboretum, and the National Zoo. One of the most important responsibilities we have is teaching kids to see themselves as part of a greater whole. At Capitol Hill Day School, our community does this beautifully.” [May 2011]
“At Capitol Hill Day School one of the ways we describe the learning process is as a ‘struggle with ambiguity.’ Research supports our belief that curiosity is greatest when there is a gap between what we know and what we think could be known. Brain imaging demonstrates that when we are curious, we use regions of the brain that are also associated with hunger and conflict (think – ‘lust for knowledge’) and that when we satisfy our curiosity, regions of the brain associated with pleasure are in play. In other words, curiosity is a good thing!” [March 2013]
“Research clearly demonstrates that play is the first and most natural way we learn. A learner’s ability to play with imagination is the building block of abstract thinking and executive functioning skills. For example, children’s ability to create musical instruments out of found objects on the playground leads naturally to their ability to see written language as a symbolic placeholder for concrete objects. A child’s ability to structure and sustain a pretend storyline is a first step in her ability to organize her thinking on later tasks that demand more sophisticated analysis. In classrooms, at all grade levels, new content is often introduced through an opportunity to play and explore with materials and concepts.” [May 2016]
In many of my Gray Matters, I share resources that support my writing. Here are several that I feel are worthy of a second look:
"Why What you Learned in Preschool is Crucial at Work" (New York Times, Claire Miller)
"7 Things Every Kid Should Master" (Boston Globe, Susan Engel)
"The McNamara Fallacy and the Problem with Numbers in Education" (Chronotope, Carl Hendrick)
“Why Empathy Holds the Key to Transforming 21st Century Learning” (KQED, Mind/Shift, Thom Markham)
Thanks for indulging me on this journey. Each month, I enjoy the exercise of crafting a note to our community. I hope you find my writing informative and thought-provoking. If you are so inclined, you can find many of my past Gray Matters archived on our website.
Head of School