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The WHY… Educating the whole child

Posted October 25, 2018.

The WHY… Educating the whole child

A blog by Greg Ashman, Head of Research

Some schools like to talk about teaching the whole child, as if other schools only educate the left leg or the torso. Of course, we know what this is meant to signal. It is intended to convey the idea that academic achievement is not the most important thing and that there are other aspects of school life such as sport, music, community involvement and general wellbeing that are important too.

At Clarendon, we simply do not believe in setting these goals in opposition to each other. We do not believe that academic achievement is the most important thing, but we do believe that achieving our best in everything we do, including the academic side of school, is a key goal. This is because academic wellbeing opens doors to our students achieving their hearts’ desire. And academic wellbeing is a key indicator of overall wellbeing. We know from numerous studies that school achievement is related to a more prosperous, healthier and longer life.

At Clarendon, we believe that academic wellbeing is enhanced by participation in co-curricular programs. We believe that these programs help develop the ‘soft’ skills of organisation, time-management, showing up when it’s cold outside, teamwork and a whole host of other intangible capabilities that feed into academic progress. And progress is what we value, not starting points or end points. As a school, we believe we can add real value to the journey, a belief supported by independent data. But the goal of academic wellbeing is not the reason why we are so committed to our co-curricular program. A lifetime participation in, and passion for, sport or music or community service is a valuable gift to bestow upon any young person.

Ask yourself what opportunities are open to your own child. Does your child take advantage of them? We know we are not perfect and so it is also worth reflecting on whether there any opportunities that we are missing. Let us know.

Clarendon aspires to educate the whole child and we always want to get better at what we do. However, we tend to shy away from using the ‘whole child’ phrase. Why? Well, I wonder whether the phrase signals something quite the reverse of its literal meaning. I wonder whether it signals that, far from placing equal importance on all aspects of school life, one key aspect of overall wellbeing is not as important. And that would not reflect who we are.