Rely on Mission to Make Good Decisions
By Linda Pryor, Executive Director, The Center for Mission & Academics
Education has the reputation of being a trend chaser - always looking for that magic bullet, that next big thing that will change how we help young people learn. The result is a good deal of change in curricula, pedagogical instructional strategies, terminology, and textbooks. And yes, some of these trends or new approaches have been positive and helpful. But, in my opinion, others have taken K12 education down the wrong path. For example, grammar instruction is currently on the outs. Inventive spelling has not proven itself. And sadly, memorization has been given a bad name - drill and kill - to name just a few.
For that reason, Brookfield Academy has never chased the newest and most popular trends. Instead, we try to stay abreast of educational movements, learn what we can, and make prudent decisions. How do we do this? We have two very useful documents and a simple process that guide us and direct our thinking.
The first step of this process is to review and self reflect on who we are as a school. Our mission statement
and our Portrait of a BA Graduate
are key in this reflection. It is so easy to get caught up in some new idea but taking the time to reread our mission, and carefully going point by point through our portrait reminds us what we value most and why we have been successful in forming ‘responsible, constructive, free people.’
This self-reflection is followed by deep study of the new or popular ideas currently before us on the educational landscape. It takes time and observation - we don’t jump quickly on any bandwagon. We study and watch and ultimately decide what supports us in reaching our mission and what does not, what we will embrace and what we will leave behind.
We are often asked the question - who decides if your curriculum changes? How are textbook choices made? Are you pressured to make changes you do not want to make? Gratefully, Brookfield Academy is a private, independent school that accepts no funding from the government. This gives us the freedom to make our own decisions about curriculum and instruction. It also means we have a great responsibility to our families to make the best decisions we can to stay true to our mission and philosophy. And this brings us full circle to another important element of our school’s philosophy. We treasure the freedom of the individual but we understand that it must be balanced with personal responsibility.
Fortunately for us, our founders and early leaders gifted us with this strong sense of who we are and what we must constantly work to protect - our mission, our freedom, and our commitment to excellence.