Cheri L. Wood
Head of School
Cornelia Connelly School
of the Holy Child
‘Looking Beyond’ to provide education that “meets the wants of the age.”
Cornelia Connelly’s admonition in our goals to provide an education which “meets the wants of the age” may require that we look beyond the popular acronyms of STEM and STEAM. As we look at the future of the students of our schools, it is apparent that the careers for which we are helping them to prepare may not yet exist. In addition, there is a widening gap in traditional curriculum design and the skills needed for future success, leadership, and service to others.
Our schools have been able to move forward with the integration of science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEM/STEAM) into their innovative curriculums, learning spaces, and makerspaces. Even so, we are called to think about what could be next. Students of the schools of the Holy Child network will face major societal issues and they must be prepared to adapt and thrive. Their content knowledge and engagement in their learning will be important, but critical thinking skills of creativity and complex problem solving, social skills of collaboration and leadership, and personal competencies of grit, courage, and stress resiliency will be ever more important. Our future is being defined by disruptive technologies and global communication. Because of this, we must consider transformational approaches to our education system.
To enhance our classrooms in relation to critical thinking skills, we may need to focus on methods that would engage students in activities to foster the ability to quickly understand complex information, learn to use it and to adapt. In curriculums that teach foresight, such as TeachtheFuture.org, students can learn to think creatively about the future and develop the agency to influence it. Analysis, synthesis, evaluation, and communication in any academic domain can empower students to envision possibilities in the future. As they do this, they can develop the capacity to face challenge and have the persistence to lead others.
We will need to work cohesively with others and collaborate across borders as global citizens in the future. As Holy Child Network Schools, we are poised, not only due to our shared mission, but because of our connectedness to be successful in providing these skills to our students. Global perspective, effective citizenship, valuing, and collaboration are competencies that can be addressed in all classrooms and across our schools. They can also be put to work in entrepreneurship and internship programs for our students that we may be able to share with each other. These programs provide the opportunity for our students to acquire an innovator mindset, to be change makers, and to connect with network schools.
As more and more is being placed on our students, it would be important to create transformational practices that include wellness. As the demands on time and talent have increased significantly, our programming must support students in developing grit, courage, and stress resilience. Through wellness programs, we may be able to mitigate the effects of our faster-paced world. The time, energy, and resources for every person in our communities is limited and the demands are many. Our educational communities can be supported through learning self-compassion, self-regulation, and self-calming tools to manage stress and support prayer life. As they care for themselves, place their trust in God, and learn to lead a balanced life, they will have the energy to care for and serve others.
Great opportunities and challenges exist in the future of our students. In order to provide for them, we are called to think of the next innovation and to have a growth mindset. As we consider bold new ideas through foresight thinking, entrepreneurship, or wellness programming, we are blessed to know that our mission and philosophy can be our guide. Cornelia Connelly provided for us the educational philosophy that can “meet the wants of the age” with “a bright and joyful spirit.”