When I first started working at Helen Gordon, people were interested in how I was liking it here. I would respond that it felt like a honeymoon. I felt like I had connected with a school that I had been in love with for a long time, and that while I was there, I was finding more and more things to love about the place.
Six months later, it came up in conversation that I was still in love with the place. A colleague of mine who I adore and admire, asked me quite candidly, “What is it that you love about this place so much?” At the time I couldn’t quite articulate what gave me such joy through the work, but after some reflection I can speak plainly about it.
I mean, there are many things to love about my work. The families who seek out and attend Helen Gordon are a special kind of people who have done their due diligence in seeking alternatives to how education should be done. We are given great latitude to run our classrooms only within the limits of our own vision and imagination. We have supports in place that most centers find difficult to install and manage. But there is one main reason why I love working here.
I love that I am working in a place where teachers can collaborate. We are given the space and time, and we are supported to engage in dialogue about our work (although many argue we still don’t have enough space or time, and I agree. There never is enough time do get to everything I want to do).
The result is that I am working in a place that is intellectually challenging. In previous experiences, when I had any ideas, the response would usually fall in one of two categories.
- “Oh no, David’s got another idea!” Eyes firmly fixed towards the back of their heads.
- “Ok, how can I help to make this happen.” Completely validating my idea, but also not engaging in any discussion.
I now work in a place where if I have any idea, the typical response is, “Oh, that’s an interesting idea. What about THIS idea … ” And then we engage in discourse about the work, about finding deeper meaning, and about the possibilities that I could explore.
This is a place where I have to bring it mentally everyday, and I can’t check out without getting called out on it.
And I love that. Because it means that people care just as much as I do about this important work. I don’t have to waste my time advocating and lobbying for what I believe, because I work in a place where when it comes down to it, we hold the same philosophical underpinnings when it comes to education and children.