The Heart(s) of Fairhaven School

The Heart of Fairhaven? Consider the art of boredom…

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 In our fast food, constant connection, instant gratification, helicopter parenting/wanting-life-to-be-perfect/fix-it or fix-your-kids world, we parents do not easily accept discomfort in our children. But are we doing them a disservice to protect them from struggle with difficulties, even ones that seem as mundane (and counterproductive) as boredom?

A week or so ago, I was sitting in the kitchen having lunch with a colleague, and as usual students were coming in and out. She asked a few in the room at that moment, “Where do you think the heart of the school is?” Without much thought, one 7-year-old boy said, “I know where the heart of the school is: it’s inside each of the students.” With a collective “Awwww,” we decided to keep asking anyone who came into the room, and I started writing down the answers. Soon the page was full of their wide-ranging suggestions. The answers ranged from the heart of the school being in a specific location, (the circle garden, fairy tree, the porch in the Fairhaven logo) to debating on the Chesapeake Room vs. the Circle Room.  Someone said the Chesapeake Room might be more of the brain and the Circle Room the heart, while others proposed more philosophical ideas such as JC or School Meeting. Less obvious (although unique) answers emerged,  such as “the database” and “in the cave under the school where we keep the dragon to guard it.”  I’m still in the process of collecting everyone’s answers, and several students and staff members  have said, “Let me think about it and get back to me.” I’ve been in that same boat, and I love the thoughts that this question provoked in all of us.

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Fostering Independence

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“Parents investigated for neglect after letting kids walk home alone.” A recent, local event quickly created a national debate about two purported extremes of parenting: “free range parenting” and “helicopter parenting.” Since Fairhaven School has been designed to foster independence in its young people since we opened in 1998, we have followed this debate with interest.

On the one hand, we see the growing tendencies of parents to control, monitor, and dictate the experiences and education of their children. Between school, after-school activities, and summer programs, many parents see their primary role as ensuring that the lives of their children are filled with the right activities. Crucially, these parents often try to shield their children from failure or risk of any kind. Notwithstanding the commonplace shepherding through elementary and high school, we now hear stories of parents inserting themselves into even the college lives of their offspring! Although the examples and patterns of so-called helicopter parenting continue to proliferate, evidence of actual, successful, independent people resulting from this cultural shift is lacking. Indeed, the opposite seems to be occurring.

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