Thoughts on life as a model for society in today’s boarding school, written by Jonathan Taylor, Headmaster, Bootham School – a member of the York Boarding Schools’ Group
A boarding school will have a profound effect on its students. The ethos of the school is its permeating and influencing character, and we should be in no doubt that this character will be of immense influence on our students. The school is itself a real society. How do we wish our societies to develop – and heaven knows we need them to develop for the better, and fast – and how will our working and living in the model society which is our school help change society for the better? Of course we aim for the highest standards of literacy, numeracy and the other skills needed for our complex society; of course we need chemists and mathematicians and food technologists and linguists, and we get those by formal academic teaching in the classroom. But citizenship, I suggest, good character, carefulness, and positive criticism, and healthy engagement with political ideas, even happiness, are stimulated and nurtured by the everyday modelling of such things which the student will notice in all the myriad transactions of our daily lives in a boarding school. A school which has the broadest possible understanding of education will look critically at the way in which it carries that vision in its everyday transactions, because it understands that its most powerful lessons are not in the way it talks, but the way it does.