October 15, 2017
Amazingly, the last month has sped by and we find ourselves in the midst of October. In that time, much has happened on campus and this is a time of significant growth for your children. What I mean is that the fullness of the Taft experience is upon us. Classes are at cruising speed, sports and extracurriculars are mid-season. Dorms are settled, or as settled as can be expected, and we are largely navigating the work of living together. All this is to say that we have in place the prime conditions for growth and learning.
That growth and learning presents challenge. Think of the tree root pushing up the sidewalk. The tree, ultimately, will persevere over the sidewalk and, in many ways, the challenges the Taft faculty put before your child mirror those of the sidewalk before the tree root. On a certain level, those challenges look daunting at best. Much like the tree root, our students bare down and push through these challenges. Sure, they may complain, note their tiredness, and outline how seemingly insurmountable the challenge. They are, after all, adolescents.
At the same time, they are well supported and positioned to navigate these moments. As you receive texts, emails, and occasionally calls about these challenges, please consider reminding your child of the following:
- Her or his obvious capabilities as a person to overcome challenges. This is different than saying, “you’re smart,” which Carol Dweck discovered actually has the opposite of the intended effect. Remind your child that hard work is the surest way through these challenges.
- The many supports - teachers, coaches, advisors, class deans, dorm parents, monitors, etc. - that are part of Taft and exist wholly to help students learn and grow. While hard work is central to success, working hard in the right way is also critical. This is where asking for help can guide those efforts to the best ends.
Becoming a productive self-advocate, which is to say someone who knows what help he or she needs and how to find it, is one of the most essential learning skills for a Taft student. Learning this, becoming proficient at it, will aid said child here at Taft and well beyond in life. To become that, the students need real and significant challenges and then need to seek out the support necessary to work through those very challenges. While not formulaic, the process we use here at Taft does a good job of helping students to develop this important capacity.
Parents weekend, Hotchkiss Day, and November will be here before we know it. I am looking forward to all that we accomplish in the second half of the first semester and, as ever, I appreciate your feedback. Have a great day.
All the best,