These are interesting times for schools. Increasingly, and appropriately, parents are looking to us as educators to provide their children with the skills they need in order to navigate the noisy, fractious, and divisive culture we inhabit. As with all skills, these can only be developed through disciplined and intentional practice in communities of learning, which makes finding the right school more important than it has ever been. And schools, in turn, must decide how we will respond to the challenges of our era: We can seek to shelter students from the contentions and controversies that have roiled our society, or we can harness the energy unleashed in these momentous times to deepen our children’s learning and prepare them to be the leaders we will need going forward. Friends schools have, for more than 300 years in America, reliably chosen the latter course, helping to guide students and families through a revolution and a civil war, through astonishing accelerations of scientific and technological innovation, and through a host of other triumphs and tragedies, all with a clear-eyed willingness to frankly acknowledge and engage our struggles and a relentless determination to make the world a better place.
Schools offer the greatest value to children and their families when they provide an environment that counters the more pernicious tendencies of the wider society. And so, our current context demands much of our schools.
- In a time when the tenor of our national discourse so often leaves us shouting past each other rather than listening to each other, our schools must provide our children with the opportunity to practice the civil and respectful exchange of ideas, and help them understand that they have something important to learn from those with whom they may disagree.
- In an age of information overload, we must look to our schools to foster in our children the timeless academic virtues of reasoning and analysis, the ability to discern truth amid the constant barrage of news and data, and an eagerness - in the face of simplistic solutions and sound bites - to embrace the complexity of the issues they encounter.
- In an anxiety-ridden society where the aversion to risk threatens our children’s ability to take chances and learn from both their successes and their struggles, we need schools to develop our children’s perseverance and resilience, and to help them see that failure - as a catalyst for reflection and growth - can be an important stop on the road to success.
- In an era of noise, speed, and distraction, schools must step forward and foster in our children the practice and appreciation of reflection and mindfulness.
- In a society where rising inequality has segregated communities along class, racial, and ethnic lines, we should expect our schools to provide our children with proximity and connection to people whose lives have been markedly different from their own, offering them a rich perspective from which to view their experiences and those of others.
At Friends School of Baltimore, we can draw upon more than 230 years of educational experience in answering the daunting challenges of the present moment. As such, our approach is both timely and responsive to the current moment and timeless in its historical grounding, dating back to our founding in 1784. We partner with families to develop in our students the qualities that will best equip them to thrive in an often confusing and rapidly changing world, and to achieve the outcomes parents have always desired for their children; lives of purpose and fulfillment, deep and meaningful connections to their communities, and the ability and inclination to make a positive impact on the lives of others.