I was so pleased earlier this week to read an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education by Carol Holstead, a professor at the University of Kansas, titled “Want to Improve Your Teaching? Start With the Basics: Learn Students’ Names.” As many of you know already, I am fascinated by the power of our names both to distinguish and to connect us, and I believe that a culture of knowing and valuing one another’s names and individual stories at MICDS substantially reinforces the strength of our community.
In 2014, Gallup, Inc., in partnership with Purdue University, published a study of more than 30,000 United States college graduates that found that the likelihood of being engaged at work was 1.9 times higher if “my professors cared about me as a person,” 2.2 times higher if “I had a mentor who encouraged me,” and 2.4 times higher if “my college was passionate about the long-term success of its students.”
Professor Holstead cites the Gallup-Purdue study as well as less formal research that she and a colleague have conducted with their own students in recent years. “I asked 80 students what made them feel that a professor was invested in them and in their academic success,” she writes. “The No. 1 response? When the professor learned their names.”
As valuable as a “vertical” culture of name-knowing is to individual actualization — name-knowing between teachers and students, coaches and students, staff and students — a “horizontal” culture of name-knowing — name-knowing between students of varying interests and life experiences, between parents from different neighborhoods and backgrounds, between teachers and staff in different divisions — is equally valuable to community actualization. “Do to others as you would have them do to you” is the baseline “Golden Rule” articulated in any number of religious and philosophical traditions. “Dignify others as you would have them dignify you” must and will be our “Golden Rule plus” at MICDS.
Shakespeare’s Juliet asks, “What’s in a name?” My answer would be, “The place where happiness begins.”
Always reason, always compassion, always courage. My best wishes to you for a wonderful weekend.
Head of School