A few months ago I came across this article in the New York Times, Why Your Kid’s Bad Behavior May Be a Good Thing. I’ll confess that I picked it up at first simply because it had an intriguing title, but after reading it I was pleasantly surprised to find that the content does a nice job of highlighting some of the research behind our approach here at Bixby!
To be clear, our goal at Bixby is not to foster a Lord of the Flies-esque mentality, but rather to use our understanding of healthy child development to foment children’s honest self-awareness and authentic confidence in themselves. As the article points out, “when children feel safe and loved, they are better able to ‘find their voice and figure out the world for themselves.”
This sentiment has been at the heart of Bixby School since our founding and it feels keenly relevant today. Our children are growing up in a world that will have opportunities and challenges that are unprecedented. Although a body of shared knowledge and skills will be foundational, their ability to navigate and shape the unknown will rely upon their ability to create new knowledge and experiment with new solutions. All of this is hard to do if not impossible unless our children have a grounded sense of self from which to take risks. The design of our school is intentionally oriented to do just this – build relationships over time, create the space for exploration and mistakes, and provide unconditional love and belonging to students. From there, anything is possible.
Our students don’t need to cure cancer or invent a better mousetrap in order to make a positive contribution to their community, but they are less likely to do either unless they have a healthy sense of security. Our focus on joy, caring and connection is not simply a “feel-good-nice-to-have” feature of our small school. It is a necessary ingredient to our ability to nurture children’s love of learning as they discover their individual gifts and prepare to make meaningful contributions to their world.