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Brendan Largay, Head of School

Preparing the Kid for the Road

It is remarkable how quickly time flies. During Capstone week, the college admissions scandal broke, and a flood of responses from the institutions involved and op-eds poured in across the country. I bookmarked and set aside each one as I wrote last week’s Scoop message celebrating the many lessons of Capstone.

Now that I have returned to those articles and opinions, it seems that every possible analysis and perspective about the scandal has been offered. One sentiment that resonates most for me as an educator and as a parent was expressed in a New York Times article about snowplow parenting. Think of it as the latest parenting style iteration and the next step beyond helicopter parenting.

Where helicopter parents were hovering above, ready to swoop in when things became too challenging for their child, snowplow parents take a more prominent role, actively clearing the path of any obstacle their child might encounter. In the article, Stanford professor Julie Lythcott-Haims offers this: “The point is to prepare the kid for the road, instead of preparing the road for the kid.”

Well said, Ms. Lythcott-Haims.

At Belmont Day, I find myself in conversations time and time again about the importance of the school’s six core values and their alignment with our parents’ values as we partner in raising and educating each of our 280 students. This alignment has been affirmed through the work on the mission prototypes this month. It is the power of fostering independence, instilling character, and empowering children with an authentic and clear voice in the face of challenge that brings our families into school each day. At Belmont Day, the covenant between school and home is reliant on the critical underpinning that we are all working towards the same goal of preparing the child for the road. 

As parents have been catching me for conversations about the scandal, the covenant broken at other institutions resonates for many as a fundamental violation. The funny money of the privileged hyper-elite being used to end-run the admission process is nearly universally recognized as offensive and ridiculous. What eats at almost everyone I have spoken with is the unapologetic violation of core values.

At BDS, core values matter deeply, and every member of our school community sees the need to maintain the lofty standard that they set as we seek to prepare the child for the road, and not the road for the child. In fact, if there’s anything I might add to this notion, I would offer that BDS students will be designing the road itself someday, so let’s prepare them for that, too.

Have a great weekend.

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