Independent School Management’s research on admissions suggests that a student is more likely to select a school if he perceives it as a respectful environment that provides him the opportunity to engage in adult-like decisions. While it should be a given that all students are treated in a respectful manner, I wonder if our boys have the opportunity to make “adult-like” decisions at UCC?
At first glance, it is easier to see decision-making moments in the co-curricular program because that’s where students can make decisions in drama, music, service, and publications as well as athletics. These judgments are “real” because their outcomes affect others. For example, the editor of the school paper can squash an article or put it on the front page, in the same way that a catcher can call for a pitch, a defensive line-up, or an intentional walk.
I wonder, though, if we might benefit from giving students, especially our older boys, even more opportunities to make decisions. Years ago, a mentor teacher offered me this bit of advice, “If the students can do it, no matter what it is, they should try.” This was at a boarding school that allowed the grade 12 students to help run the food service. As a result, potatoes were sometimes overcooked, and dinner was often a few minutes late, but that was a small price to pay for giving those students the chance to flex their developing leadership muscles.
I wonder, too, if our intense focus on achievement and assessment inadvertently undermines our ability to endure the necessary mess of adolescent growth?