Rescuing Education

Monday, May 06, 2013 - By: Bud Patel

When planning my article in the May edition of The Torch, I wanted to share my weeklong experience in Alberta (Aril 15-19). John Allpress, Deputy Head, and I visited friends and family of Brentwood. This culminated with receptions in Calgary and Edmonton. Past, current, and future parents mingled and shared stories with Old Brentonians.  It was truly a magical experience.

Instead of more on my week in Alberta, I feel compelled to share three teaching and learning stories. As you know, I enjoy moving about the campus to witness the wonders of our faculty and students.

I was recently fortunate to sit in Mr. Tate's Physics 11 class where he quietly discussed Einstein's theory of relativity, the dilution of time, and traveling at close to the speed of light. He was captivating and engaging. Students were able to clarify, question, and understand.

Next, the Grade 10 English teachers gathered their students in the Lecture Theatre to outline an elective genre unit in which they have seventeen classes to dive deeply into an area that piques their interest. From Ian Fleming's 007, to war poetry, to photojournalism, our Grade 10s have the opportunity to create an incredibly deep learning experience with passionate teachers guiding them along their journey.

Finally, as you know, the 43rd Annual Brentwood Regatta has thousands of athletes and spectators descend on our campus for a truly world-class rowing occasion. On Founder's Plaza, eight food booths from a grilled cheese stand (Daisy's Diner) to a pulled pork bun station (Shreded) were exclusively run by students in our Entrepreneurship 12 classes. In teams of 3 or 4, they have collaborated to build a business plan with detailed cost structures, marketing strategies, and profit margins. I enjoyed sampling them all.

I share this with you because of a compelling article I just read. In the most recent National Association of Independent School's publication, Malcolm McKenzie argues that experiential learning will "rescue education". With the rise of on-line learning, homeschooling, MOOC's, and shrinking North America demographics, education, as we know it, is rapidly changing. While I'm not convinced that one form of learning is exclusively the answer, varied practice, relevance, and meaningful learning opportunities are vital for the growth of young minds and hearts. I remain convinced that the key addition of a full boarding experience enables deeper and richer learning.

These three examples indicate that Brentwood is well on its way to "rescuing education".

Bud Patel, Head of School

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