The Student News Site of the Latin School of Chicago

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The Student News Site of the Latin School of Chicago

The Forum

The Student News Site of the Latin School of Chicago

The Forum

What Should Latin Stand For?

Will Nuelle Staff Writer “What values do you think Latin encourages in you? What should Latin stand for?”   The Strategic Plan Committee lead by Mr. Greer asked just that question this past Wednesday during advisory. A handout was passed around to every student in each advisory across the school. The intent was to create discussion that would lead to a Statement of Values, not unlike the classic “Kindness, Manners, and Civility” that defined the Lower School for many kids. Discussion ensued in the homeroom that I was in —  my advisor, Mr. McCutcheon, had handed his students off to Ms. Schmadeke for the period. Comments were positive when students were asked what values Latin encouraged in them, although there were a few negative comments — “cool” feedback as Ms. Schmadeke put it. Students listed off adjectives anywhere from “loyalty” to “individuality” and many adjectives in between. The second question made me think. “What should Latin stand for?” It is noble that the school is trying to unify all the students and faculty beneath a common goal. But, I didn’t know if unification of purpose is really the right move for such politically and socially conscious high schoolers. Part of me wanted to scream out, “Nothing! Latin shouldn’t stand for anything.” I didn’t scream by any means but I did bring this notion up in the discussion. To paraphrase, I told Ms. Schmadeke that I didn’t think Latin should uniformly stand for anything because each student should let Latin stand for what they think it stands for, not for what they are told it represents. The comment was met with some people saying “oh, good point”, but most were probably thinking “Jesus, here comes Will with his philosophical crap again.” But, either way, I think it is an important topic. Should Latin stand for anything uniformly among the students. For some students Latin is only a place to get a really good education, for others Latin represents their education, friendships, and all of their activities. Should Latin be more than that? I think for some people it is a lot more than that, and for others it is less, so then why should anyone be telling us what it stands for? In a logical manner, a Statement of Values makes sense, but in a realistic one, maybe it doesn’t. Can a set of values define the goals and interests of everyone at Latin? No, certainly not. It felt like our Statement of Values might be something that would be created to appeal to parents, potential students, and alumni in order to portray some kind of legacy or honor. Of course, if the administration thinks a Statement of Values is something that should define the Upper School student body, then so be it. But I’d argue that one single statement couldn’t characterize the lives and goals of every single Upper School student, and if a common purpose is not going to represent all students, why should it represent any of us?]]>

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  • W

    wnuelleFeb 24, 2013 at 11:34 pm

    Thanks, Mr. Greer. It is called the Forum for a reason, so I think it’s good that our articles are fostering discussion. The point you made about the absence of values actually standing for something is definitely true and is something I did not consider when writing this article.

  • K

    kgreerFeb 20, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    Fript told me this was a good piece. So here I am. And I agree with Fript.
    Thanks for the serious reflection about the values. I like your “philosophical crap.”
    Some thoughts in reply:
    1) Even an education that tries to be value neutral is also expressing a value. No school, no educator can escape communicating a value. The absence of overt, expected values signifies the nature of the community and learning in the school. Latin would stand for something even, perhaps especially, if it decided not to stand for something.
    2) Looking at the new version of the values we formulated, with great help from the students’ feedback, I think you’ll find that a recurring theme is that we should all identify and live up to the purposes and goals we set for ourselves (teachers, faculty, everybody). A not-so-excellent education, a lack or respect, integrity, and compassion is most often the result of a lack of intention, mindlessness, short-term thinking.
    Hey… here’s an exclusive to the Forum… our updated values!
    Educational Excellence
    Our students strive for excellence by identifying their passions, pursuing commitments of enduring value, and persisting in the face of adversity.
    Our students master a range of disciplines and analytical skills, connecting them to one another and to the world.
    Our faculty craft authentic opportunities to learn, through which our students express their curiosity, think critically, and communicate with joy, precision, and creativity.
    Our faculty and students build close relationships that serve the unique needs of each child, inspire confidence to take risks, and forever renew the love of teaching and learning.
    Our faculty, families, and alumni, in partnership with our community, create the widest possible array of opportunities for our students to grow.
    Our school engages the broader educational community, generates innovations that inspire learning, and often serves as an exemplar of teaching and learning.
    Integrity and Respect
    We respect ourselves by developing and integrating our intellectual, aesthetic, athletic, ethical, and leadership potentials.
    We live with integrity when we act in accord with honesty, fairness, and our moral beliefs, rather than our momentary self-interest.
    We respect our fellow community members by encouraging and expecting them them to live with sincere purpose.
    We care for one another, recognizing our unique abilities and shared vulnerabilities in a challenging educational environment.
    We show compassion to ourselves and each other by acknowledging the importance of balance and health while pursuing our commitments.
    We build a community that embodies the diversity of our world and instills within us the moral imperative to improve the lives of others.

  • W

    wnuelleFeb 19, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    That’s a good point, but I also feel like Latin only has the duty to give an education. Anything that a student receives beyond that education is bonus. I think the burden should be on a child to learn their life lessons rather than be taught them by someone else. With that being said, if a person wanted to be dishonest — not that anyone at Latin strives for dishonesty, it’s just a counter argument to the honesty point — then is it Latin’s job to tell them that’s not okay? I personally don’t think it’s Latin’s business saying that all students should be one way or another. Even though honesty is generally accepted as a good quality, is it Latin’s job to say “because this is a good quality, you should be this way”? Of course it’s my opinion, but the reality of the people should make up the statement of values not what the ideal goals of the administration is. That becomes a bit political, I guess, but people should be entitled to their business and their business only, so why is it okay to say “this represents all of the student body”? There is no real answer to this; it really just boils down to a matter of philosophy.

  • M

    Mary JaneFeb 19, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    I dunno. I don’t think the school should force values on us, but I do think it is the school’s place to /instill/ values. Honesty, for example, is a good characteristic to have, regardless of who you are or how you identify. So I think we should all have common values as human beings, at least to some extent. And aren’t you throwing the baby out with the bath water if you say that just because a school wide purpose or value statement cannot fit perfectly every student, we shouldn’t have one? I think a value statement would do more good than harm even if it didn’t fit everyone. And hey, if LSOC doesn’t mean that much to you, you really shouldn’t care… (not you in specific Nuelle, the general you.)
    Alright, I don’t want to be so mean. Good article, Smelly. We should talk.

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What Should Latin Stand For?