Baylor: A School of the Present and for the Future
by Scott Wilson ’75, President and Headmaster
During his recent visit to Baylor, Pat Bassett, President of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), talked about schools of the future and what schools must offer their students in order to best prepare them for life in the 21st century. Widely respected as a clarion voice in the profession, Bassett was visiting Baylor as the keynote speaker for the 2010 Tennessee Association of Independent Schools (TAIS) Biennial Conference, which Baylor hosted. His remarks ranged from a challenge to schools to reexamine their strategic institutional visions to an exploration of the questions, “What and how should we teach?” The beauty of Bassett’s vision of the effective 21st century school is that it sounds a lot like Baylor today.
So, why would I share the core points of Pat Bassett’s address at Baylor in this space? The answer is simple. Baylor’s educational program, through a combination of visionary planning, leadership, financial support, intuition, and even serendipity, has become something of a model for Bassett’s school of the future..- Scott Wilson ’75, President and Headmaster
So what skills will our students need to give them the best chances for success in the 21st century? Bassett talks about the “five Cs”: character, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication. Character for Bassett extends beyond honor to include the qualities of perseverance and compassion. Bassett posits that a dearth of character in contemporary politics, business, and culture is both causal and symptomatic of American societal ills. Great schools, he claims, will have character at the heart of their work. Second, in our information-overloaded world, Bassett contends that schools must be much more about the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills and less about the learning of facts. Creativity, ingenuity, and the entrepreneurial spirit — historic pillars of the American experience — are on the decline in U.S. schools according to Bassett. Schools of the future must create environments in which students feel liberated to experiment … to try, fail, and then try again … for their creative abilities to be fully energized. Schools must also give students the opportunities to collaborate, to work in teams beyond athletic courts and fields. Bassett draws real-world conclusions that “life indeed rewards successful teams.” Further, these “teams” will be global, comprising peers from around the world. Finally, Bassett implores schools to nurture and challenge students’ development of classical communication skills, both written and oral. This attribute has long been a pillar of the Baylor and classical independent school experiences.
So, why would I share the core points of Pat Bassett’s address at Baylor in this space? The answer is simple. Baylor’s educational program, through a combination of visionary planning, leadership, financial support, intuition, and even serendipity, has become something of a model for Bassett’s school of the future. As you read this edition of the the Baylor magazine, you will hear echoes of Bassett’s remarks. This reality places Baylor in an extraordinary position: we have the chance at greatness as a school! I look forward to sharing with you in the months to come our agenda for the future. Our present reality and future opportunities are truly compelling.
Go Big Red!