Teaching Children the “Becoming Life”
At Birchwood School of Hawken the why and how we educate holds the focus to cultivate a becoming life. What is meant by a becoming life? It is a life that:
- Pursues growth and progress in all aspects of what it means to be human.
- Seeks ways to thrive and flourish in any environment, under any condition, amidst all opportunities, before any challenge, and even under adverse circumstances.
Simply put, the becoming life describes the process of becoming whatever it is a person can become. The becoming life encompasses the human experience. It includes achievements and attainments according to individual aptitudes and capacities. Hence, it is growth in education, in skill, in hobbies, and in recreational pursuits. Yet, it is more. It is growth in virtue: courage, self-control, justice and wisdom, and it is growth that deepens and enriches relationships with family, with friends, with fellow students, and with various social groups and society at large.
Education in this context is a means to call children to a higher plane of life; higher in knowledge, in experience, in character, in innovation, and in service. In a K-8 setting, education for becoming will still include familiar behavioral outcomes: academic achievement commensurate with capacity; ability to think critically, analytically, and creatively; opportunities to cultivate curiosity through exploration and discovery; and guidance toward social responsibility. But education for becoming goes further. It provides educational experiences within traditional disciplines, and it provides particular – sometimes unique – educational programming that cultivate the habits, mindset, and practice of becoming. In short, education for becoming provides children with the content, skills, attitudes, and aspiration to pursue a life of growing, thriving, and flourishing.
At Birchwood it is our belief that both history and research illustrate the fact that human beings are designed to grow, and that the richness of a life well-lived is one which is creating and recreating itself to ever higher planes of life. The becoming life recognizes that growing and thriving are an incremental process. Progress is made little-by-little, day after day.
Every child has his or her own unique starting point for growth in their schooling, in their relationships with others, and in their capacities to expand their interests and hobbies. The becoming life is within the realm of possibility for every child. If guided, every child is capable of making incremental, measurable steps toward thriving. It is also important to note that the becoming life is learned behavior. It can be practiced and experienced by every child from any walk of life. Hence it is far more inclusive than traditional education.
Simply put, every child can grow and make progress in every area of his or her life. Education for the becoming life will not only equip children with the knowledge and thinking skills they need for economic success in the 21st century, but also support the habits and attitudes that will empower them to make the most of their lives amidst the opportunities, adversities, and challenges that their futures hold.