Dear friends of Whitfield,
A glance at today's headlines (or even out the nearest window) will confirm how rapidly our world is evolving. Today's graduates must negotiate a new global reality in science and technology, in business and economics, and in relationships, both interpersonal and international. Together we face a fascinating challenge, and education has had a hard time keeping up.
In this dizzying atmosphere the key to success, for individuals as well as schools, is twofold: RESPECT for the wisdom that forged our society and government in the first place and OPENNESS to new ideas and ways of being.
We have to know where we're coming from, but we must also be flexible, collaborative, light on our feet, "undefensive," and quick thinking. We need to admit that the knowledge explosion of the last 20 years has changed everything and then explore the meaning of that momentous change. If the aim of education in a bygone era was to find "the right answer," today's goal is much more about asking the right questions and knowing where to look to satisfy them. And in today's marketplace of ideas knowing how to package and communicate one's findings effectively has become as important as the findings themselves.
The good news is that we have discovered so much in the last generation about how students learn best, and at Whitfield you will find a faculty and a culture attuned to this body of knowledge. The path to becoming an educated person must always be rigorous—nothing of value is achieved without great effort—but now we know that learning is also greatly enhanced in an atmosphere of partnership, true intellectual curiosity, and joy.
Now we know that the model of teacher as coach and mentor far surpasses in effectiveness that of the "sage on the stage," and that an overemphasis on grades, test scores, and competition can short circuit authentic academic achievement. We have learned that proficiency in a foreign language will open life-changing doors. And we have established beyond any question that a rich experience of the arts and of athletics—areas of special strength at Whitfield—will contribute to a lifetime of enhanced purpose and satisfaction. The research is compelling.
Head of School
email John Delautre