Monday, April 13, 2009

Uniform Town Hall

During the Monday Assembly, the middle school participated in a Town Hall meeting on the topic of the uniform.

Prior to this meeting, a panel of faculty and students was selected to shape the conversation, listen to all suggestions, and create a proposal for the appropriate decision-makers. This panel created a list of questions to help students shape their opinions on two fronts: the uniform itself and the enforcement of the uniform code. This document was sent to the advisories, where the ensuing conversations allowed students and faculty to coalesce their thoughts.

During the Town Hall, the panel took notes and asked clarifying questions of students and faculty who presented their opinions, suggestions, and arguments regarding the uniform.

Over the next week, the panel will meet to create a proposal for submission to the administration and review by the Parents' Association.

The Town Hall proved to be a lesson in civics, as well as an opportunity for the community to express their thoughts on a major aspect of school life. Our hope is that we may be able to use the town hall structure to discuss other aspects, such as the Points system and laptop issues.

A special thanks to Mrs. Radway, who brought the idea to me and was a major organizer of the event.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Boomer Generation, Generation X/Y, and the New Face of Character Development

This article appeared in the New York Times:

The article above describes the growing number of Boomer Teachers who are getting ready to retire over the next ten years and how it is affecting the landscape of the teachig profession. With the attrition rate for new teachers seemingly rising at the same time, many predict a crisis on the way.

It also makes me wonder about the character education and development aspects of a school. As younger generations filter into the teaching profession, how is character development thought of? What are the values these people hope to instill and, maybe more importantly, how do they intend to instill them?

Some characteristics of Generation Y in the workforce are they demand more benefits for less work, want a role in institutional decision-making almost immediately upon being hired, and will have held five to six different jobs by the time they turn 35. It is also a generation shaped by experiences of exponential change, creativity, and brought up on open-source content and collaboration. If this is the generation set to take over the teaching profession, what values will they pass on?

I can't say I have the answers. One thing I do know is there is something to be said for a healthy mix of old and new perspectives. As a student and teacher of history, I've learned that not taking the time to look back upon moving forward often means mistakes are repeated. The same may go for how we hope to develop honor and character in our students.

Note: The characteristics of Generation Y discussed above were gleaned from a talk by Ron Goldblatt, Executive Director of the Association of Independent Maryland Schools.