Thursday, August 12, 2021

Honor: On

When you think of honor at MBA, you might automatically think about the honor code or the honor council, entities that exist to promote the integrity of academic work. In fact, the word "work" is right in the honor code pledge: "On my honor as a gentleman, I have neither given nor received aid on this work."  During in-service the faculty saw a video in which a current student invoked honor in a way we don't often hear. Asked if MBA encourages students to be their true selves, the student replied, "MBA does stress the value of honor. I feel like a person's true nature comes out when they're honorable, because they're not lying about anything. They're being their true selves." According to him, the idea of honor breaches the bounds of school work and spills over into all aspects of our lives on The Hill. 

Is he right? What are the implications of thinking about honor beyond the honor code?

Just as there can be a temptation to copy the work of boys who excel academically, a similar temptation can arise to "copy" the personality of popular boys. Especially in these formative years, caving to such temptations degrades boys' integrity and bears rotten fruits like toxic masculinity. Boys can find themselves pretending to be something they're not. Extended pretending leads to painful consequences when the facade falls apart, much like a student who continues cheating on his homework and ultimately pays the price on the final exam. 

As a kind of vaccine against such temptations, MBA must help boys know their own self-worth and feel confident in traveling on the path that leads to their best self. When we celebrate boys for their achievements across all areas of the school, we stress the importance of hard work along the way. We don't expect every boy to be a star point guard, a virtuoso upright bass player, or an unbeatable debater. Instead, the successes of boys in certain areas serve to inspire other boys to work harder in their own areas. The game-winning shot of that star point guard might inspire an artist's next sculpture. The cool sounds played by that upright bassist might inspire a poet's next verse. The sublime turns of that debater's argument might inspire a running back's search for the ideal path through the defensive line.

We look forward to building upon the unique strengths of all 825 students on campus this year. They've each got plenty of honorable qualities, so there's no need to copy.

For more about MBA's approach to educating honorable men, click here.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Why Pursue an Excellent Education?

As a member of the World Leading Schools Association, MBA has the opportunity to learn from excellent schools and colleagues around the globe. The exchange of ideas and experience among these schools is invaluable to what we do on The Hill. More to the point, though, is why we do it. In the WLSA conference this summer, that why took center stage.

In some of the conference's opening remarks, Eve Jardine-Young, Principal of Cheltenham Ladies' College, rallied the attendees around our the common goal of providing an excellent education. As a perfect example of educational collegiality spanning both space and time, she quoted an excerpt from a 19th century Eton College handbook whose words still capture the why of an excellent education. 

“At school you are engaged not so much in acquiring knowledge as in making mental efforts under criticism.

“A certain amount of knowledge you can indeed with average faculties acquire so as to retain; nor need you regret the hours you spent on much that is forgotten, for the shadow of lost knowledge at least protects you from many illusions.

“But you go to a great school not so much for knowledge as for arts and habits; for the habit of attention, for the art of expression, for the art of assuming at a moment’s notice a new intellectual position, for the art of entering quickly into another person’s thoughts, for the habit of submitting to censure and refutation, for the art of indicating assent or dissent in graduated terms, for the habit of regarding minute points of accuracy, for the art of working out what is possible in a given time, for taste, for discrimination, for mental courage, and for mental soberness.”

Just as we expect the boys to engage in this kind of education, the MBA faculty aims to continue learning from these exchanges among our excellent global colleagues.

Eton College
Eton College

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Come Back & Go Forth

Returning to The Hill after a weekend, a summer, or a decade offers you a moment to think about where you are. Yes, the campus is a dazzling place these days, but you'll probably think about more than bricks and mortar when you get here.

When you see the Ball Building, you'll think of Ms. Kit's copious candy jars. Or maybe you'll remember the letter that your 6th grade self sent to Mr. Gioia with all your hopes and dreams for your time at MBA.
Catching sight of the Massey Building could spark memories of Mrs. Christeson imparting Cicero's wisdom to you. Or will you think of Mr. Russell teaching you how to write? Or will you remember Mrs. Roberts' never ending supply of unbelievable (but true) stories? Or do you remember that you are back on campus because you're still serving demerits Coach Anderson gave you?

The Ingram Science Building is where Mr. Barclay or Dr. Crowell untangled the laws of physics for you. It's where Mr. Spiegl and Dr. Creamer helped you build rockets and rocket cars. It's where Mr. Hannon choreographed a chemistry lesson with some Muppet accompaniment.
The Davis Building hits you with memories of Ms. Hollifield coaching you all the way through Studio Art AP as you discovered and honed hidden talents. In the hallways you swear you can still hear Mr. Rundberg singing along with the jazz band. 

The Carter Building might call out to you in Mr. Paolicchi's clarion EspaƱol. Or maybe you hear Rammstein rumbling from Herr Dougherty's room. Madame O'Connell's warmth and wisdom is still hovering around here as well.

The Dining Hall means Ms. Susan is almost certainly waiting for you with some chocolate chip cookies.
The Lowry Building, while relatively new on campus, has its legendary namesake to nudge your nostalgia. In a kind of English-teachery line of apostolic succession, the likes of Dr. Kinch, Mr. Moxley, and Mr. Klausner never settled for less than your best, and their red ink flowed freely in the meantime.
Memories of Currey Gym now reside in the newest addition to The Hill, the Burkholder Wellness Center (aka The Burk). Here you recall that Coach Owen expected you to bring that brain you'd been training all day. Here you learned that Coach Lanier's geometry lessons lived on the soccer field as well as in the classroom. Here you might remember Scott Dalton '12 leading student sections that swayed and cheered in distracting unison.
Seeing all of this when you return to campus, you realize that your thoughts have dwelled mostly on the people who were here for you. The bricks in the quad and the bell in the tower mean nothing without the people. And, because you were a person the last time you checked, you might just have what it takes to make some other part of the world a better place.

But first you have to serve those demerits...

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