By Craig Gemmell
Head of School
I’m sitting in the living room of Lord House, early morning light brightening the darkness, pecking at the computer in silence. My only company: the newly-installed, freshly restored portrait of William Brewster, son of John, our school’s great benefactor and namesake. He was a man of science, and I’m grateful for his watchful eye because my task for this early morning is to begin documenting a bit of science in which I’m engaging.
Funny the difference 12 hours makes.
Last night, this very room was filled with the class of 2016. The only evidence of their having been here are a few random crumbs from the mountain of cookies they consumed.
Students came over for what will be the start of an interesting experiment, one that we’ll all be carrying on together over the course of the year. They seemed to be willing subjects.
The idea for this experiment emerged from an observation: this generation of kids is over-programmed; they spend scarce little time being and too much time doing. This relentlessness causes them to miss out on the huge growth that comes from building deep relationships with a range of people with whom they’ve got to live every day–despite their differences and through the individual and collective ups and downs.
Hypothesis: students who play together build community and care more fully for each other.
Experimental protocol: students will come over as our respective schedules permit and spend time together doing whatever they want to do. We’ll provide board games and puzzles and roaring fires and cookies. And hot chicken wings, apparently, because one student requested them emphatically.
Initial data: students were both quiet and cautious when they came in; they took their shoes off automatically, and our threshold became a multi-colored sea of sneakers. They explored quietly and sat politely at first, but ten minutes in the neighbors probably had reason to call the police because clusters formed and students had to raise voices to be heard. When they realized that their hosts just wanted this collection of kids to be a group, to enjoy each other’s company, to laugh, to play games, the tenor shifted and kids became themselves. A birthday was celebrated; a flash mob was proposed, and their hosts were too embarrassed to ask what a flash mob is. Students relaxed into the sofas and chairs and poked around the house. At least a few were terrified by the four-pound Chihuahua defending his turf. One trio sat and talked and petted our other dog, a pathetically-needy golden retriever well after other students left and I excused myself to wade through email.
This experiment will run through the end of May 2016. 124 participants currently. Goal: 124 participants through completion of this experiment. Stay tuned.
Science Lab Photo Credit: Amy Loves Yah