"If you treat young people with respect in an environment which respect is at the heart of the curriculum and the soul of the institution they will accept each other's difference and serve the common good."
New Roads School, as a student speaker at this year’s senior graduation pointed out, prepares students for “whatever the situation calls for.” We live in a world defined by change and uncertainty. There is too much information to memorize; technology can perform many of the functions of human beings; and knowledge becomes obsolete quickly. In this context, a profound question calls for an answer: how should we educate our children for this world?
I believe that New Roads School has an inspired, continuously evolving response. It is a place that is breathing, constantly in the process of examining itself to make certain that our educational program will prepare young people to lead productive and fulfilling lives in a future that none of us can truly imagine. We do this by providing an intellectually challenging and engaging college preparatory program from which each student develops a personal dedication to learning, a respect for independent thinking and an expanding curiosity about the world and its people. We believe that education must not be a race for the accumulation of facts, but a joint venture among students, parents, and teachers to develop habits of mind; habits of character; an ever expanding awareness of the human situation; and the tools needed for effective personal, social, political and moral participation.
An essential tool of 21st century education is authentic experience in a diverse community. Our students don’t read about diversity; they live in a community in which they interact both inside and outside of class with students and adults whose differences are reflective of Los Angeles and the global community. As Tony Wagner, an expert in residence at Harvard’s Innovation Lab and author of The Global Achievement Gap, points out, students need to be able to collaborate across differences to be prepared for careers, college, and citizenship in the 21st century. From the time our students step on to the campus, they begin to develop this essential capacity. In addition, the critical thinking and problem solving strategies students have in their backpack increase tenfold as a result of learning with diverse students and adults.
None of these benefits can be realized without treating young people with respect and taking them seriously intellectually. Our founders hypothesized that “if you treat young people with respect, in an environment in which respect is at the very intellectual core of the curriculum and the soul of the institution, they will in turn produce good work and accept and respect each others’ difference.” New Roads, an embodiment of the aspirational promises of America, is nearing its 25th anniversary. Time has tested our founders’ hypothesis, and our solution is indisputable. We are still boldly here, preparing students for “whatever the situation calls for.”
I invite you to visit our School to feel the vibe of this peerless, daring, and courageous independent school that offers its students an inspired education for an evolving world.