Each fall, the trails throughout the Proctor Woodlands are littered with acorns that threaten a rolled ankle even among the most nimble of hikers. As winter snows recede and spring temperatures catalyze the annual rebirth within the 2,500 acres of land Proctor calls home, some of these acorns will sprout and grow into saplings.
As educators, we engage daily in the unending balancing act of providing our students a sense of freedom and a sense of connection. While the pendulum of independence swings back and forth within a culture depending on the prevailing norms of the time, what we know at Proctor is that the adolescent brain biologically craves independence, and yet is only able to pursue that independence when surrounded by a nurturing community.
As we begin the third week of classes, we remind ourselves that it is often that which we experience outside of the traditional classroom that has the greatest impact. This is what we seek to do at Proctor. To get proximate to our learning. To feel it with all five of our senses, and then to take that learning with us into our lives beyond the official end of the class block.
Each Registration Day, you can feel the rollercoaster of emotion as families arrive on campus and their Proctor experience begins in earnest. The theoretical idea of having a child attend boarding school becomes reality, and while much of everyone’s energy centers around excitement for what lies ahead, we acknowledge there is just enough anxiety and sense of loss to make the emotions of the day challenging.
In September we published THIS blog post discussing the term acedia and its ancient roots that aptly describe the situation in which we have found ourselves in over the past thirteen months: listlessness, undirected anxiety, and inability to concentrate. At the end of the Fall Term, we shared thoughts on emotional agility and the need to come to terms with the complexity of that which we were experiencing. Over the weekend, The New York Times published an article titled, Feeling: It’s Called Languishing in which the author, Adam Grant, describes the joyless and aimless state that has besieged so many of us over the past year. We are inundated with messages seeking to help us make sense of this chapter of our lives.
As the Proctor community swings back to in-person learning this week, as the dorm pods loosen and disperse, the interconnectedness of all that is Proctor, the mycelium underneath, reveals itself. Coming back to in-person gets the network humming. Yes, we can do a lot remotely, but we get to the “it “ of learning by being in the landscape, not simply observing it from the outside.