Thoughts on Teaching and Learning: A Perspective on our Community of Joyful Learning

October 7th, 2019

Seeing pictures from any Perspectives trip always reminds me of what joyful learning looks like. Out of the classroom and out of their comfort zones, students experience new activities, new places, and new ways of learning. It is always a joy to see. The pictures from Camp Allen this past week, where fourth, fifth, and sixth grades gathered to canoe, ride horses, work together, and have fun, also reminded me of how important community is. I find community being built in so many ways at Selwyn:

I find community among our teachers, who work closely together to nurture each child to his or her unique potential; they collaborate across grade levels and subject matters; they plan Perspectives trips with students and often find as much joy in the experience as our students do; above all, they provide the rich soil that allows our community to grow.

I find community among our parents, who chaperone Perspectives trips and participate in students’ learning and growing experience. They are not just along for the ride: they learn in all the ways that our students learn, and they get to see how Selwyn tries to make all learning experiences joyful while pushing students to embrace academic challenges.

I find community among our students, whose comfort in the nurturing community at Selwyn allows them to ask difficult questions and interrogate the world in meaningful ways. Students learn to form well-crafted, well-articulated arguments in a community that encourages lively discussion and debate where any can disagree without being disagreeable. Out of their comfort zones on Perspectives trips but still in a motivating community, our students learn that to take a risk is to grow.

Perspectives encourages personal growth and allows students to form closer friendships and bonds with their peers and classmates. At Selwyn, we see students learning joyfully each and every day because they are members of a community where joy and learning are encouraged. This idea is foundational to our mission: without sacrificing academic excellence, we foster empathetic and innovative thinking—skills that cannot be automated and are necessary in an economy that increasingly recognizes value in non-routine skills and social and emotional awareness.

In our community, students get their hands dirty in the garden; they camp out to look at the stars; they travel to places near and far to experience firsthand what words and lectures alone cannot convey. At Selwyn, our classrooms are not confined by walls and we strive to make learning an experience. Joyful, experiential learning keeps us true to our mission. From that first Perspectives trip to a ranch in Spur, Texas, over sixty years ago to last week at Camp Allen in Navasota, Texas, Selwyn remains loyal to the school’s founding mission of cultivating a community where students are encouraged to learn joyfully—and to never stop learning.

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