Posted by Adam Moore on 2/12/2017

One of the great privileges I have in leading a 2K - 8th grade independent school is the fact that I get to meet and listen to guest speakers from all walks of life, from all areas of Memphis and the world tell our students about their passions, dreams, and goals as they seek to empower the next generation to lead our world.

Over the past couple weeks, I sat in on a class while a naturalist that lives part-time in the Arctic and part-time in Alaska, explained to first and second graders about polar bears, seals, the importance of krill, and the work of a naturalist. This experience could spark a natural curiosity in a child and inspire deeper study and thinking. I have listened to a speaker in our sixth grade class tell about his experiences working in Mission Control at NASA when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon; what a way to motivate students in their study of space. I have heard from a servant-hearted entrepreneur that opened a bicycle shop and training center in under served parts of the Memphis community and also from a construction director with S.O.S., Service Over Self, tell his story of serving and helping Memphis.

These experiences are created and sought after by independent school educators.  They give students exposure to not just dynamic in-class experiences but to experts in their fields, people with hearts for serving others, and exposure to people from all aspects of the global community. These unique and potentially transformative experiences can’t be found in textbooks, worksheets, or standardized tests. They can only be found in schools that are willing to “step outside the box” to create experiences for students that will motivate them to achieve, serve, and be more productive students and people.

In independent schools, we have the opportunity to enhance our students’ experiences and ensure a “whole child” education. We are not stuck in a specific textbook, teaching style, or scope and sequence of curriculum. A narrow view of teaching and learning can severely hinder a schools’ ability to teach their students.

Schools should be dynamic, energized laboratories for learning that look to create experiences that will motivate and bring the world to their students. Exposing students to people that are chasing their dreams and making a difference in our world can often be the very thing that motivates a child to dream bigger, try harder, stick to the task a little more, or study harder. Those are the very skills that all schools should be in the business of providing to students.