Mission: School

typewriterFrom a response on a local school “strategies” thread:

The current mission statement for the Monroe County Community School Corporation:

MISSION
We commit to working with our community to deliver an
appropriate and safe learning environment with a curriculum
dedicated to excellence that honors the unique and diverse
needs of our students.

***

A school is an institution
A school is a building
A school is an ideology
A school is a philosophy

A school is nothing if there are no students to embody the definition (cf. Gary, Indiana).

To educate; to develop, to instruct, to inform, to train. Do we intend all of these?

I would argue that “to develop” is the only truly expansive, and thus democratic, term on the list.  The others are words of force and coercion.  Also, like the so-called educating technologies (i-Pads) our children are readily “informed” and “instructed” and “trained” in the ways of our business ideologies–they are enveloped by them.  It’s my contention that a school should keep these external for as long as possible in order to allow real growth.  Once one is “interred” in the paycheck world, the ability and time to think and grow is vastly diminished.  Think of Frost’s “The Ovenbird,” “The question that he frames in all but words/Is what to make of a diminished thing,” yielding to a narrow mind that, as again Frost says “cannot look out far…and cannot look in deep.”

To develop learning.  Does this need further clarification?  To develop the questioning capacity.  To model learning.

We should not educate, but provide the ground for the expansive growth of mind and spirit.  True learning is exciting.  Our schools are the opposite and it shows.

The world of tomorrow…No, this will not do either.  The only world is this one today.  There is no tomorrow.  Better, if tomorrow is our goal, then our work today is to make possible different tomorrows for every student.  We offer only the “after graduation” world.  Tomorrow’s world has been dictated by politics and economy.  If anyone thinks it best to change this, then the work we do today had better be vastly different than our current “tomorrows.”

Curriculum dedicated to excellence:  A curriculum is often only a cultural conveyance.  In this manner we offer content intended to relay our cultural values.  Is our curriculum dedicated to cultural values?  Are these “excellent”?

Are these defined?

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2 Comments

  1. jharris May 29, 2012 at 9:09 am

    The comments above are so in line with what we believe education should be. I know this is a mission blog but couldn’t resist asking what the vision from which this mission is created.

    We thought this would be appropriate.
    The vision is to create educational experiences that foster and enable all students to develop their talents and abilities to their fullest potential.

    Reply
    1. Douglas Storm May 29, 2012 at 10:02 am

      Thanks for the comment. I think sometimes it’s better to stay away from all these awful pretend “guiding” statements. They can do nothing but be “useful” to the power that yields and applies–all vague notions can be sung in varying registers.

      Why not try to think in terms of a single content item and define why it’s something that might be an item to fit in a school? Reading a fairy tale for instance. Try it. Choose one and then try to say how it is “pedagogically” useful–but then also try to find ways it is subversive (all good literature, all art really, to be truly valuable as a profundity has the subversive in it). In other words, if we fully explicate this thing what does it say that the state may not like? That parents may not like?

      Schools are, for the most part, institutions of conservative limitation. We might all agree that socially this makes some sense. But normally, if we are truly excited about learning and thinking, we would want to abandon conservatism in our thinking. We may want to retain it in our “actions”–I for example am rather against the “liberal” idea of “free trade”–and conserve our lives and our beings. But in our minds–we want freedom.

      The schools I’ve been to primarily promulgate obedience to social norms and the thinking, if thinking is encouraged at all, must be framed by those norms.

      Reply

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