Thursday, March 24, 2011

Here's an invitation I sent today:

Faculty, Staff and Board:

Service is at the core of our mission. In my Weekly Post letter last week, I quoted Post Oak alumnus Nikkil Schneider who said simply, “That’s just what we do.” Service is baked in to Montessori kids from the earliest age. For us, service to others is more than a food drive at Thanksgiving. It is a character trait whose roots are nourished in the infant community classroom when one two-year old helps another put on a sweater.

Montessori kids learn to give help and to receive help in matters of practical life, and in their studies as well. What do you call it when one child helps another in class? Cheating? That’s what most schools call it. We call it the ideal. Business writer Steven Covey agreed. He said that the traditional American ideal has always been to move from the dependence of childhood to the independence of adulthood. Covey suggests that an even higher state of development comes when we recognize and embrace our interdependence. Once again Dr. Montessori was ahead of her time. In the Montessori elementary curriculum we present a chart entitled “Interdependencies” when we study the organization of society. That is an academic model, an intellectual construct, one that becomes a lens through which the Montessori student views the world. On a more concrete and practical plane, helping each other from the earliest age is augmented by service to the classroom community, to the school as a whole, and then service to the wider community as the child matures and their worldview expands.

Montessori graduates understand that their work is a part of the network of interdependencies that comprise our society. In that way, all work is service. Beyond that, Montessori graduates have learned to give and to receive help. They have learned that this is a core value of community, and so they look to serve. As Post Oak alum Lt. Will Treadway said when I asked him to connect the dots between Montessori education, West Point, and a career in the military, “Leadership and service.”

And so I am pleased to see that the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) is promoting service. Read about its “One Million Hours of Service Initiative” . NAIS Executive Director Pat Bassett frames service as part of the “public purpose” of private schools.

I would like to contribute our voice to this dialog and am asking for volunteers who are willing to lead this project for Post Oak. Please let me know if you are interested.


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