Our Mission – Part 1: Academically Challenging

Click to enlargeThe first component of our mission statement is something you should see in every school–to be academically challenging.  The second component, to be personally supportive, is rarer.  The two of them together create the heart of The Fulton School identity.  Supporting while challenging–it’s a dance.

Too much support with too little challenge teaches children that they can’t do things and leads to dependence on others, anxiety about new situations, and learned helplessness. Too much challenge with too little support also teaches them that they can’t do things and leads to discouragement, self-sabotaging, and giving up.  And if that’s not complicated enough, the balance is a little different for every child!

Another way we look at it is through the lens of an outdoor guide.  At outdoor education, we learn that we all have three zones: our Comfort Zone (which we all love!), our Challenge Zone (which we may think we dread, but which is rewarding after the fact), and our Panic Zone (we are so frightened that we can’t think straight).  They teach us that we really don’t learn anything in our Comfort Zone because there’s nothing new in this zone, or in our Panic Zone because we are too overwhelmed to take in new information.  We have to find our Challenge Zone to really learn.  This means there are new things to do or try, but that we feel supported enough to achieve it. It’s a challenge–not easy, but they are surmountable.

Finding the perfect Challenge Zone for every child in every subject and every situation is a lot of pressure on us both, as parents and as educators!  And it’s impossible. Let’s just get it out of the way right now that we won’t get it exactly right–you won’t and neither will we.  But our mission is to reflect, discuss, observe, debate, study, and do our best to find that balance for your child every day.

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