"What a view; I can see forever!"
That is often the first reaction of people who come to visit Wakefield, and it is my thought almost every day of the year. But it’s the internal "view" – the educated perspective on life and what your child’s role will be – that is more important to us.
A legendary teacher once defined the purpose of education in these words:
You are not engaged so much in acquiring knowledge as in making mental efforts under criticism. A certain amount of knowledge you can indeed with average facilities acquire so as to retain; nor need you regret the hours you have spent on much that is forgotten, for the shadow of lost knowledge at least protects you from many illusions. But you go to a great school…for the habit of attention, for the art of expression, for the art of assuming at a moment’s notice a new intellectual posture. For the art of entering quickly into another person’s thoughts, for the habit of submitting to censure and refutation, for the art of indicating assent or dissent in graduated terms, for the habit of regarding minute points of accuracy, for the habit of working out what is possible in a given time, for taste, for discrimination, for mental courage and mental soberness. Above all, you go to a great school for self-knowledge.
At Wakefield, we aim to help each student develop a "view" of himself or herself which is accurate, positive, and enthusiastic about the opportunities which adult life will bring. We start by helping students understand who they are (character development) and how they learn (strong academic foundation) in the Lower School (pre-school-5th grade). They learn to learn and play together as they accept the school’s cardinal principles of fortitude, justice, temperance, and prudence.
We continue through the Middle School (6th-8th grades) by teaching a desire to explore new and different subjects, ideas, perspectives, and experiences. Discovery Days, teachers committed to bringing organic project work to a broad classical curriculum, laboratory science courses, and a required performing arts and athletics program – all of these encourage middle schoolers to spread their wings!
We conclude in the Upper School (9th-12th grades) by engaging students’ passions in the areas they discovered in middle school and empowering them with leadership roles in daily school academic and extracurricular life. This culminates in extraordinary student publications, activities, athletics, and academic initiatives. Indeed, students themselves design the ultimate academic course they take in their senior year.
The consistent theme in all of this is self-discovery and growth. The most common alumni comment is that Wakefield is the place where they learned that they could do anything they set their minds to doing, and where they also began to know what it was that they really wanted to do.
And that is a great view!