As we near the end of the first trimester and approach the winter break, I have been hearing more about New Year’s resolutions. A resolution is “a firm decision to do or not to do something.” The ritual of tweaking our behavior in an attempt to change habits has a very low rate of success – around 8% according to a recent article I read. This is evidenced, for example, by the spike and then fall of gym memberships around the New Year or the number of diet books bought, then discarded.
So instead, this year let’s have New Year’s “revolutions.” A revolution is “a dramatic and wide-reaching change in the way something works or is organized or in people's ideas about it.”I was inspired to think about revolution yesterday, when I was walking through the building visiting classes. I spent some time in Michel’s European Revolutions class as they discussed the symbolism of a piece of Stalinist propaganda art from the 1930’s. They dissected the images for meaning, and discussed the purposeful choices the artist made in the creation of the piece.
What “revolutions” will we make in 2018? As a school, we try and make wide-reaching changes in the way our students understand their world every day. We work to help them develop a firm understanding of how things work and are organized – from social and societal structures to the periodic table of elements – so that they can be independent thinkers who bringing meaningful change to the world.
We have been making some meaningful changes in the high school. While perhaps not revolutionary – we have heard the need for more communication, and are now sending a “week-at-a-glance” notification to all students and families every week. You may have noticed multiple email notifications this past weekend as we worked out the bugs in sharing that notification with our students. More revolutionary have been the changes in the Science program the past two years, and the addition of the 11th grade trip, now in its third year. As a group of thoughtful and professional progressive educators, we are constantly asking ourselves why do we do what we do the way we do it. Engaging in deep reflection, and modeling that for our students may be the most revolutionary practice of all. This has led to a success rate significantly higher than 8%!
Speaking of “revolutions,” we tried a dramatic change in the way we are thinking about documenting some student experiences. It’s been a long time since the opening week of school, but for anyone curious what the new student orientation trip to Ramapo is like, and why we do it – please check out this video from the 1st three days of this school year! If you like it, please let us know, and we’ll make more!Micah Dov GottliebHigh School Principal