I am overjoyed by the excitement on campus — the return of students for in-person learning, the collective embrace of community life, and the opportunity for parents to reconnect with each other and meet their sons’ teachers face-to-face. By now, I’m sure you feel things are much more “normal” than in recent memory. Returning to campus has been significant in so many ways.
There is something to be said for “everything old is new again,” a famous quote from Jonathan Swift which has been revived many times since it was written in the 1700s. What feels most significant to me today is the sheer delight of returning to things that we may have taken for granted in the past. It’s not just the return of these experiences that make this time special — rather it is the renewed value, purpose, and meaning that these moments bring to our lives today.
This awareness calls to mind a global research study (now a decade old) conducted through the International Boys’ Schools Coalition (IBSC), in which Crescent was a participant. Lead researcher Dr. Adam Cox was motivated by the belief that boys can do extraordinary things when asked to do something they perceive as significant to them. Over this two-year project, Dr. Cox interviewed boys, met with teachers, and made presentations to parents to find “dimensions of significance” where boys find value, meaning, and purpose in their lives. Dr. Cox argued during his visit to the school that Crescent was part of a “new horizon of boys’ education” where a school is experienced as a place of significance.
For Cox, “Significance implies meaning and value beyond the immediacy of the moment; experiences that shape boys’ minds through the power of insight, inspiration, and meaningful changes in their subjective perspectives of themselves and the world.” Such environments foster time and space for dialogue, validate multiple perspectives, teach emotional intelligence, engage in purposeful work, and showcase creative and intellectual achievement. Today at Crescent, I am observing these moments of significance all over again through a post-pandemic consciousness. What is old is truly new again.
And what have I found significant so far this year? How about the following:
The boys enthusiastically “breaking bread” in our dining hall, having conversations without the distraction of their devices;
The boys intentionally learning from their teachers about the importance of having moral courage when discussing difficult topics;
The boys joyfully performing in front of others who are keen to applaud their effort and resilience.
The younger boys absolutely enthralled by the older boys and their modeling of character, inspiring their younger brothers especially in full-school gatherings.
What are you looking forward to for this year? I might suggest that what we revisit together was in front of us all along.