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Great Expectations for a Competitive Future

I  have been travelling a bit this week which allows me to do things like read the newspaper- usually reserved for more leisurely Saturday mornings. On Friday morning I came across an article that grabbed my attention immediately.

The Globe and Mail article entitled Poor Little Rich Kids Feel the Heat, written by Chrystia Freeland, provides food for thought. Freeland cites research by Drs. Kronrich and Furstenburg out of Columbia University which ‘describes a world in which the opportunities for, and therefore the demands upon, upper-middle class children are infinite.’ As Freeland indicates, these children want, at the very least, what their parents have, yet the availability and the opportunities are harder to access because everyone is aspiring to achieve the ‘prize,’ thus creating fewer options.

Our girls are fortunate to be able to attend St. Clement’s and to have access to an outstanding education.  We try to ensure that economics is not the deciding factor, with approximately 11% of our 340 upper school students receiving some form of financial aid.

Having said this, it was the quotation below that I found quite thought-provoking:

“Increasingly we live in individualistic democracies whose credo is that anyone can be a winner if he or she tries. But we are also subject to increasingly fierce winner-take-all forces which mean the winners’ circle is ever smaller and the value of winning is ever higher.”

My brother- a high school guidance counsellor- and I talk a lot about the pressure under which our students find themselves, and note that this seems to be a broad societal issue rather than a school-specific one. At St. Clement’s School we know that our girls possess intellectual curiosity and a passion for learning and have parents who value academic excellence as a priority, and as a result, high expectations abound. Knowing this, we see it as our School’s responsibility to ensure the implementation of unique programming that goes beyond academic curricula to highlight authenticity, resilience, mindfulness and the capacity to prioritize in a busy and competitive world. Our LINCWell program, an acronym for Learning, Individualization, Nurturing Creativity and Wellness, is in essence, the umbrella under which all learning from Grades 1-12 takes place. Alongside academics, the girls learn about themselves, their unique learning approaches, and how to work through processes and issues in a resilient and mindful way. LINCWell is also aware that programming is more impactful when it reaches beyond our students- to teachers, parents and alumnae- and as the program develops we continue to reach outward as well as inward to support and facilitate growth.

We know our girls to be fortunate to have access to the exceptional academics at St. Clement’s. We also know that due to the realities and pressures they will face beyond our school, they need an education that supports and guides them to be authentic, flexible, and resilient to assist them in getting to wherever they want to go.

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