This week at Proctor marks the period of settling. Just as the leaves in their autumnal colors change and fall, so, too, does our affective model of education begin to shift, unfold, and deepen as a storyline in a novel does. Every school where I have worked has a rhythm all its own.
On Saturday, September 11, Hunter Churchill and I gathered our seven Proctor students and their student leader, River De Vink, to hike on Day #4 of Wilderness Orientation. We had decided that morning that we would head up Mount Willey, a formidable 4,285 foot peak in the heart of New Hampshire’s White Mountains.
In many cultures, gatherings are sacred, like the garments worn at a celebratory event. It’s where people feel comfort, receive information, share messages, and pass on what is essential about why the group exists. At Proctor, we are a mix of people, groups, religions, races, creeds, and cultures. Often, we come together to share in the joy of each other’s gifts, whether in the classrooms, spaces of play, upon the stage, or because of common interest. We all share one essential thing, which is the love for our small village - our school - that knits us together on pristine land in the middle of New Hampshire.
Backcountry driving, just like backcountry anything, can reveal much to you. Like some divination tool, it tells you mostly where you are going by revealing where you’ve been. That’s what I tried to do when I drove halfway across the country to Proctor’s campus last weekend in great anticipation of the longer journey that awaited me as a member of the Proctor community. During this meandering drive from the midwest, I figured I could only focus on what lies ahead.
We like to be right. It’s affirming, pumps us up, and boosts confidence. We crave it, moving from one island of affirmation to the next, hopscotching the confidence squares. We can be talking about sports, politics, religion, race, or the best way to fix a lawnmower. We feel good when we get it right, when we “win,” when we get that chemical hit of dopamine. Gradually, however, with perspective, we realize that being right isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Sometimes being wrong can be a good thing.