School time is not like the rest of time. Days can seem like weeks, but hours can seem a minute, and a "career" might be 4 years (for a senior) or it might be 40 (for a senior member of the faculty).
We are halfway through the school year. With our semesters and our midterms and our punctual starts and stops, it is natural to mark time by referring to the midpoint of something. But it’s more like the moment of repose in a pendulum's swing than the middle of a line segment.
The truth about school time is that there is something timeless about it. A school year's halfway point is like the halves traversed in Zeno's paradox...the idea that going halfway is an infinite series leading towards, but never to, the destination.
What is our destination in a given year (or a given life for that matter)? Clearly, to learn a certain quantity, to mature a certain amount, to make progress by degrees, perhaps even to graduate. These might be our achievements, but they are not our purpose.
As seniors realize more and more keenly as they close in on graduation, the sense and urgency of destination often becomes blurred by a series of sentiments and attachments that suggest something greater in the works.
I believe the "something greater" is a sense of personal development--what we describe in our mission as inspiration to take responsibility for who we are becoming. It is a growing sense of who we are and who we might be.
There is no halfway to who we are or who we can become in a school or in life. There is only an infinite series of progressions that bring us closer to living lives of purpose and self-awareness—that bring us closer to others and to ourselves.
on Tuesday January 28 at 09:58AM
Last Wednesday in the relatively quiet anxiety of exam week I was OD, the LA insider term for the administrator who is “On Duty” on a given night, with the assignment of beneficently keeping an eye on things on campus, mostly on foot, mostly within the main campus buildings and dorms, particularly so as the temperature drops.
Taking the usual path through the gym (“Check that doors leading from locker rooms to rink are locked; turn off interior lights…”), I walked somewhat unconsciously into one of the team locker rooms. It happened to be the Boys’ Varsity Soccer team room, and it was partially dismantled after the end of the boys magnificent run to the New England championship game just a few days before.
At first, I had the predictable feeling of melancholy that the season was over, that the run was over; that it didn’t end on the triumphant note it might have; that the team wouldn’t compete together again—tenacious, spirited, talented, and likable a bunch as they were. But then, my eye caught two posters on opposite walls: “What We Do” and “What We Don’t Do” respectively.
These posters reveal the lasting record of the season: a record beyond wins and losses and title games and a record shared by many different programs at Lawrence Academy, from varsity to thirds, and from athletics to academics to arts. With the coach’s permission, I share with you the photographs I took that night on my rounds.
After the fact, I was told that members of the team literally signed the backs of the posters as a form of contract and unity. Figuratively speaking, many others sign off on and sign on to their contents in the work we do every season and every day at Lawrence Academy. And for that I am truly thankful.
on Monday November 25, 2013 at 04:45PM
Recent publications and broadcasts have emphasized big ideas relating to campus master planning and other “Long View” notions. In writing and speaking about such matters, I have simultaneously wanted to be both very bold and very careful in broadcasting our hopes and dreams for the future. Be cautious: you do not want to put so much out that you set up impossible expectations. But be reckless too: you want to promote an “anything is possible” mentality.
A similar rhetorical balancing act happens in communicating within the school about everyday matters. There are, of course, issues that deserve to be treated with utmost seriousness. And there are elements of daily experience that are simply hilarious in a weightless kind of way. Good humor and serious consideration can be frequent companions, and any community needs to be able to transition nimbly between these complementary modes.
In that spirit, then, of mixing the masterful with the playful with a deeper purpose in mind, I offer the following LA INITIATIVES THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN. Each is linked to actual and more politic interview snippets from a recent WRLA interview:
Reminder/Disclaimer: the following will NEVER HAPPEN:
- Revised Strategic Plan: Hostile takeover of Gibbet Hill cattle, with immediate diplomatic response of replacing cows with animatronic soy-based substitutes.
- Head’s Holuary!: Head’s Holiday expands to all of February.
- Change school song from “Lawrence Here’s to Thee” to “Dutch Elm Took All Our Trees”.
- Conversion of old student center into new healthy-foods franchise: Spartan Smoothies.
- Replace both Winterim and summer vacation with mandatory two-month “Summerim” work –study program. Sample course offering: “Build Your Own Tofu Cow”.
The serious point behind these SERIOUSLY-DON’T-WORRY-THEY-WILL-REALLY-NEVER-EVER-HAPPEN scenarios is that in order to imagine the school we want to be, we need to have a limitless creative spirit to accompany our most purposeful plans. Still, “Spartan Smoothies” does have a tasty ring to it…I’ll have the “Giant Gibbet Gelato.”
on Monday November 11, 2013 at 04:07PM
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