I am working on a series about purposes forthcoming over the next few days. I thought it was only sensible, to begin with REAL School’s purposes. Unfortunately, despite the fact that we’ve been at this for three plus years, I’m not sure members of the team would really agree about which element of our design is actually our purposes. From a leadership perspective, however, I believe in the value of honest mission and vision, so I’m starting there.
Over the next several days I will attempt to capture some of the work the design team did generating and then refining these purposes over a number of years using a number of tools and protocol to guide our discourse. These are the REAL School mission and vision statements as they currently stand:
The REAL School organizes with the local community to educate its young people through powerful learning experiences that cultivate active citizenship. Students learn by working in and engaging with their environments and they apply their knowledge and skills to the needs of the world around them. We prepare our students to become critical and reflective thinkers, colleagues, and leaders.
Community: Our core belief is that community[i] and school should not be separable. We are each defined by and develop our identities in the context of the communities in which we participate. Communities, similarly, are shaped by our participation in them. Underlying our belief in community is a belief that we are all responsible to and for each other and for making our communities and the world better places.
Leadership: The REAL School is a democratic institution that promotes active participation. We believe that all members of the community can and should take leadership in matters that are close to their interests and passions. We affirm the importance of choice and we believe that we must practice justice in our daily lives.
Mindfulness: The REAL School teaches its members to be mindful in their interactions and in their participation in the REAL School community. Mindfulness expresses the value of self-regulation and attention to the present moment coupled with the engagement of natural curiosity and an open and inquiring attitude.[ii]
Learning by doing: The REAL community believes that learning is a process of constructing knowledge through real life experiences. Therefore, the learning environment at the REAL School promotes learning by doing—students engage in hands-on experiences that force them to think, reflect and inquire further into the subject matter and concepts that are encountering.
As always, we would love your thoughts.
[ii] Bishop, S.R., and Lau, M., et al. (2003). Mindfulness: An Operational Definition. Canadian Institutes of Health Research.