December 15, 2011 - February 16, 2012
Part Dedication, Part Abandon
The most important reason why no teacher should attempt to indoctrinate is that it contravenes one of our own frequently expressed educational principles—that children should learn to think for themselves—to make choices for themselves. Indoctrination of any sort, in so far as it is successful, precludes independent thinking. It closes the mind. It should be our job to keep children’s minds open, active, inquiring rather than acquiescing.
John French, 1933
We cannot prepare young people for responsible participation in a democratic society by methods which leave them no opportunity to practice the freedoms upon which democracy is based. Nor can one learn from books the skill to use freedom wisely and responsibly.
John French, 1933
It is one thing to claim that We Are a progressive institution and it is quite another thing to live out that idea through practice. On these grounds, on this campus, John French proposed a set of principles—which the reader may find reprinted in the exhibition checklist—that are so essential to us, they have been thoroughly absorbed into the fabric of our everyday existence, now, some seventy-five years later. Appropriately, this second exhibition in celebration of The Cambridge School of Weston's one hundred twenty-fifth year of teaching independent thinking, we turn our attention toward those who steward our educational aspirations, those who keep alive the promise of a better world: our staff and teachers.
The Faculty Staff Biennale, like so many other Cambridge School of Weston conventions, is a radical departure from a traditional faculty art show. Compellingly, it is not about art per se, though art is not excluded from the mix; it is about honoring the creative impulse within all of us, no matter the area of focus, as exemplified by the things we do outside our classrooms and offices. It is not an exercise in elitism, but rather, it is an exercise in democratic openness. Removed from the fray are the limitations inherent in corralling only works of art by artists, in favor of something else. Replaced is an attitude in favor of opening up the pool to include anyone and everyone that works at this school. Thus, upon these walls and pedestals are documents, works and expressions of interest, things that we would share with our student population, things that might say something about us as individuals, things we think about and things we do or have done or even just like. If nothing more than championing individuality and a community spirit, the work in Part Dedication, Part Abandon is wonderfully diverse, but it is also a testament to the ideals of an institution that treasures individual voice, independent thinking and courageous expression within our entire professional school population.
Part Dedication, Part Abandon, if imagined as a metaphor that explores the values of a strong work ethic, coupled with a willingness to go outside the confines of traditional thought, perhaps sheds some light on what we ask our students to do within each subject area they learn. In other words, to be present with all that has come before, in the face of what unfolds around us at any given moment, requires a sharpened wit. To address the countless others who have come before us without exclusion, means to honor the voices of the here and now, despite age and level of expertise. If learning by indoctrination can't yield anything other the a repeat of what is known, then restricting a "faculty show" to a handful of artists by trade excludes far too many others, who in their own rights are creative in myriad ways. Thus, every other year, through the Faculty Staff Biennale, we dig deep and wide to find ways to share personal interests and passions. We garden, write, bake, collect, doodle, paint, fabricate, take pictures, draw, dance, make music, make lists or otherwise display common objects that have significance for us in some way. And, just as we dissolve the boundaries of what a traditional faculty show can look like, so do we also expand our classrooms and offices and the subjects we teach or support; ours is the pursuit of a collective pedagogy. Even when we are not teachers per se, we are nevertheless part of this overall community, dedicated to the edification of not only our students, but also ourselves.
As professionals, We Are partly dedicated to the material that we ourselves have studied in each of our respective areas of curricula, and we also partly approach our subjects with objective abandon, as if to live out the omnipresent need to stay alive in our thinking, preclude indoctrination within our own minds, and contribute to, if not expand, the areas of our expertise. To demand of ourselves the rigors of active thinking is to model for our students the very skills we want them to carry forward.
Gallery Director, Curator
French's Fundamentals, 1937
The school exists for the child—not the child for the school.
The child is a total developing personality—not a disembodied intellect.
The chief function of the teacher is guidance, based upon thorough knowledge of the individual pupil.
No two children can safely be assumed to be alike in their interests, capacities or educational needs.
The best guarantee of intellectual achievement is interest, which conveys its own reward.
The only enduring discipline is self-discipline; and the only education worth the name is self-education.
Children are not adults; the process by which ultimate self-control is acquired is a growth, not a jump.
The virtues of responsible citizenship can best be learned by practice in responsible living.
Every school experience should contribute to the steady growth in capacity for self-direction, and in attitudes and habits of social responsibility.