06 Apr Welcoming students and parents to Northstar Family
It began as a seed of an idea on a sleepy afternoon 3 years ago in Cambridge. Dreaming about it and seeing kids walk in to the school with their parents are two utterly different experiences. When I started thinking about the school, I realized that people are looking for utilitarian outcomes like jobs and placements, packages and benefits. I felt an undercurrent of apathy towards the thinking and inquiring approach to education. But there is a community, albeit a small one, that exists in defense of the libertarian and democratic education. So what is “right” for the society? That question kept me up at night for too long. Eventually and repeatedly, I have had to come to an understanding, a kind of acceptance, that as much as I have the right to imagine society in the light of experiences I’ve had, others have equal and possibly divergent views given their journey of life. But it is still possible to make a value judgment that the society we live in has, as its members, people who are able to ask the right questions, are able to think independently and out of their “mindset” established by a lifetime of experiences. Can our current system of prescribed curriculum, regimented routines, assessment systems and accountability structures create an environment where students don’t have to be like everyone else?
I don’t believe so.
Having spent a very long time in thinking about the purpose of education, a person eventually needs to make a choice on practicalities of such ramblings. The bridge between, in Aristotle’s terms, “Theoria” and “Praxis” needs to be scaled or at least a choice of staying in one needs to be made. I have chosen (or made to choose, I’m not quite sure) a life of “Praxis”, of doing things. And that necessitates messy work, being able to live to compromises and managing expectations. But I am quite evidently on the road to progressive education and If I had the slightest bit of influence, I would urge you to think the same. Ultimately a good education for me, in Dewey’s words, is freedom to express and cultivate individuality rather than imposition from above, free activity rather than external discipline, learning through experience rather than texts and teachers alone, and living a present life rather than living in preparation of a remote future.
- Mohit Patel, Founder