Why Educate?

Why Educate? We believe a school must begin with this question, and at Birchwood School of Hawken, our answer is firm: to equip children with the knowledge, skills, habits, and work ethic they need for their own becoming. We educate to give children the opportunity to realize their potential as human beings, to develop whatever capacities they might have, and to make a positive contribution to the communities to which they belong.

In short, we educate to cultivate beautiful young people who are ready for their future – competent, productive, and socially responsible. When my wife and I founded Birchwood with like-minded parents, this was our aim, and now, though our own children graduated long ago, our purpose and commitment to each of our students and their families remains the same.

It has been, and continues to be, our great joy to have a part in educating children to "become all that they can become."

The Aim of Education

Conventional wisdom would suggest that the aim or purpose of education is to accumulate knowledge and skills that will lead to professional productivity and economic security. It represents a ladder for success. At Birchwood, we accept this premise, But we accept it only in part because, for us, the aim of schooling extends deeper and higher.

We hold that the purpose or aim of education is to educate children in a way of life. This aim will not conclude with a profession or trade but will bear fruit throughout one’s life span. It is a pathway in which an individual is continually discovering who they are, what they can do, and how they can benefit others. Without a doubt, this purpose includes a typical understanding of education - learning about literature, math, history, science, and pathways for various professions. But its scope is broader. Its implications are life-long. It teaches what we call the becoming life – it is an education that teaches and equips children to become what they can become. 

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"Our aspiration was to create an educational institution that could mirror our values about achievement, character, and responsibility."
Chuck and Helene Debelak
Founders, Birchwood School of Hawken