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The Benefit of Rigour

On Thursday evening, we hosted the first of two Curriculum Nights at St. Clement’s, this one for parents of students in Grades 9-12. The evening started with a session about applying to Canadian Universities and along with the important specifics, our LINCWell Counsellors highlighted the need to remember the following while working through the application process:

• the primary goal is to encourage our girls to develop a useful template for making wise adult decisions, one which recognizes the value of thorough research, honest reflection, a balanced approach, and a willingness to follow one’s own path

• Focused on the LINCWell philosophy, we recognize that each girl’s needs and journey are unique, but that finding a good fit, while a challenge, is the keystone to help her succeed

During the evening, I had a conversation with a parent who wondered whether it was tough at times for our girls when applying to university; he thought that the rigour of our program could mean that our girls’ marks might not be as high as the marks of others outside of SCS. It was a comment that I have heard before, and one to which I was happy to respond.

As a School that values excellence in teaching and learning, we see our girls’ success beyond St. Clement’s as paramount. Our School’s mission is to develop outstanding women who are intellectually curious, courageous and compassionate, and our fundamental purpose is threefold: to develop strong values and character, to help our girls thrive in their school years and life, and to prepare them for their post-SCS path of choice. Our measure of success, while including acceptance to the best programs and post-secondary institutions, is really how they engage, learn and achieve beyond their acceptance. That they are able to use their skills and knowledge to continue to challenge themselves and grow is the real success.

Much has been written of late about the prevalence of credit mills, false academic designations, and the problems these obviously pose. There are many opportunities available for people to pay for a quicker path, or a less challenging course to achieve a designation or acceptance to a desired program. However, to what extent does this afford one long-term success?

St. Clement’s School’s focus on a rigorous education results in our girls learning how to learn, how to work through challenges, and how to achieve success in life regardless of the complexities and effort.

What does a rigorous education mean? It means that we focus on what the girls are learning, how they learn it, and how it is assessed. Our program challenges every student to think critically and creatively, and to problem-solve both independently and collaboratively. Our girls are immersed in deep, subject specific content that they connect across disciplines and apply to authentic, complex issues. Our teachers employ diverse, student-centred and innovative pedagogies. Our students are held to high standards and the School encourages a growth mindset and the metacognitive skills that will help students to meet those standards.

I have great confidence that our St. Clement’s education and its rigour are an advantage for our girls as they prepare for their journeys beyond our School.

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