Recently, we were reflecting on the progress of one of our students, a girl who is 8-years-old. We began thinking about several other girls at Long-View, and how much each one had transformed during her time at the school. This led us to think back on how each presented as she arrived. For a handful, this was a few months back, and for others, it was a year or more ago. Each girl had changed in her own way and transformed into an active, vocal, and passionate learner within our classrooms. Each has strong intellectual engagement, tenacity, and an inner strength that raises us all up.
The thing is, if these girls weren’t at Long-View, you’d probably see them meeting requirements and getting by, but the most you’d have to say about each is “she’s fine.” However, “She’s fine” is the problem for so many girls in elementary and middle schools. More often than not, girls are compliant and very capable of being “good” in a school classroom. They conform, they relate positively to their teachers, and they are efficient with the task-driven structure of so many schools. Homework gets turned in neatly and a sticker is earned. Many girls walk down the halls in line, check the “chore chart” daily, and offer to help out when it’s time to pass out papers. “She’s fine” might be the first instinctual response when we, as adults, check in on these girls. But we’d like to make the case that these compliant, sweet, and “school-friendly” girls deserve a lot more from the educators who work with them.
We want our girls to be so much more than “fine.” We want them to have a love of learning that spills over into all they do. We want them to have passion and strength, be willing to argue a side, be ready to jump up and make a conjecture, and to eagerly take an intellectual risk. We want them to love school because of the learning, not because of the stickers they receive on their dutifully-completed worksheets. We want them to be challenged into engaging with the intellectual aspects of school, inspired into conversations about new topics, and lifted into tenaciously tackling the most challenging problems. We want them becoming equally serious about the work they are doing as readers, as computer scientists, as mathematicians, as writers, and as scientists.
Our suggestion for parents of young daughters not yet at Long-View is to take stock of whether your daughter is really thriving in her school -- in the intellectual aspects of school. Don’t discover too late that you’ve fallen into the “she’s fine” category and missed an opportunity to teach your daughter that school is a place to fall in love with learning, to grow passion, and to shake up an academic conversation with bold ideas. Here at Long-View, we’ve seen what a difference this attitude can make for our kids, and especially our girls, and we wish the same for learners everywhere.