In the mid-19th century, Cornelia Connelly, founder of Holy Child Schools, profoundly stated that we must “educate for the wants of the age.” It was her belief, in a constantly changing world that we must respond to each child as a “whole” person, encouraging, teaching and helping them become the best person that they can be for today and tomorrow. Cornelia’s forward-thinking insights called for Holy Child educators to do both tasks – teach to the age and teach the whole child. Her wisdom and vision were generations ahead of her time. Today those same needs and concepts could not be more relevant.
As a Holy Child school, Mayfield Junior School embraces the development of the integrated, whole person. What does it take to respond to this task in the here and now? What does that child look like and become? That child is a student who can use the lessons of faith values to make good decisions with confidence; a student who is an active participant in the intellectual development of their mind and who makes wise choices to honor their physical well being; a student who can work creatively and collaboratively with a group of peers towards a common goal yet is independent and in touch with who they are; a student who thrives nurturing their gifts and talents in music, art or performance; and a student who learns life skills and problem solving to navigate a quickly changing world. The ultimate charge and purpose of education is the integrated array of instruction giving formation to the full range of human potential. At Mayfield, we are fortunate to be part of a heritage with goals and a philosophy that has been dedicated to this important task for nearly 175 years.
How do we accomplish this task in Holy Child Schools? It begins in Kindergarten and is visible through the end of Middle School. At Mayfield Junior School it is done by:
- A dynamic academic program that is student-centered, provides meaningful and relevant connections and focuses on process over product.
- A values-based education that initiates a lifelong spiritual foundation and understanding with a strong sense of compassion and service.
- Health and physical education with a focus on training the mind, body and spirit for physical well being, fitness, skills, sportsmanship and teamwork.
- Experience and training in the arts - both performing and visual. Music skills (choral and instrumental) stage performance and visual art are all integral components of the whole child process.
- Life skills to give students the tools and confidence to succeed in high school and beyond. Wise decision making, leadership development, collaboration, growth mindset, empathy and systems thinking are integrated into the curriculum.
It is a marvelous challenge and a blessing for educators to be able to provide the valuable opportunities of whole learning. Well rounded experiences in curriculum encompass the whole child, enabling students to better understand their innate gifts and how each can use these gifts to reach their full potential.
While a school’s primary focus is education, it does take a village in a modern and complex society. School and parents need to partner together for the successful whole child. Parents share an integral part in this process. How does a whole child education happen at home? From their earliest days of life encourage your child to explore. Discovering the wonders of their surroundings and cultivating their senses will jump start their minds, interests and creativity. Discuss and listen with an open heart and respectful ears. Validate and celebrate feelings while providing stimulating options and new possibilities. Respect your child, not for the grades earned in subject matter, but for the very essence of who they are. Consistently praise and reward for strong character, citizenship and humanitarian efforts - as much as for academic success. Allow and honor creative thinking and experiences with your young child. Teach and demonstrate responsibility. Role model for your child all that you envision for them and their development. The whole child emerges far more from actions they see and experience than what they hear or are told.
Pablo Casals wrote, “What we teach children in school is 2+2=4 and that Paris is the capital of France. What we also should be teaching them is what they are. We should be asking- do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique.” When whole learning occurs, a whole child emerges. Then, there is intention and agency that accompanies the child in their journey with knowledge. This inspires the child to ask higher level questions, to use analytical thinking and to go forth with a clear sense of belief and purpose.
Adapted from original by J. Brown 2008