Spring Has Finally Come To Putney

Dear Parents,

I would like to welcome the parents of newly enrolled students for next year to the Putney parent community. We have new families in fifteen states, and are adding Denmark and Poland to our already long list of nations.

Spring has finally come to Putney for real. The grass is so green it looks like an advertisement for Ireland, and it is covered with teenagers pretending to study… or not even pretending. Temperatures have been in the low 80s on some days, and there have been many intrepid kids swimming in the Puddle. This being Vermont, the time between needing winter boots and needing sunscreen is very short.

Students are finalizing their plans for Project Week, May 24-June 2. Some of them are old hands at this, and even the 9th graders have a sense of purpose and clarity that they couldn’t have when proposing projects in the fall. Our goals for this kind of learning are multifaceted, and student success at some of them will involve successive approximations over the years as they do this independent work. We can judge the impact of the “formal” piece of education by what students do when they are not being told what to do, and this applies to Project Weeks as well as to free time. A student faced with 40 hours in which to accomplish something they have set out to do will encounter many of the challenges set out in our Putney Core throughlines. Just a few examples might be:

  • Distinguishes between situations when challenges should be met with a consistent line of inquiry versus changing to a different, related question. (Inquiry and Research)
  • Recognizes contradictory evidence and realizes when they are wrong. (Argumentation)
  • Is self-propelled and self-reliant in organizing time and task. (Self-knowledge and Self-Regulation)
  • Establishes and communicates benchmarks, assesses and revises timelines and tasks, identifies and secures resources, anticipates obstacles. (Design and Build)

Of course students also hope to learn a great deal about their particular topic, and we watch closely to see how they reach out for what they need to learn to accomplish their project goals. When I ask “How did you figure out how to do that?” I hear everything from “Kevin told me that Noah knew how,” to “I found a YouTube video,” to the old-fashioned “I got a book on interlibrary loan.” Some students say “I just sat with it until it made sense.”

It was wonderful to see so many of you on Family Weekend. For those who were not able to be here, I am appending some quick notes below of what was covered in the 9th grade parents’ meeting. At parents’ requests, we videotaped the 10th and 11th grade meetings and the links are shared below. Our intention was to capture content; please forgive the less than optimal production quality. If this proves to be helpful, we’ll refine our technique for future meetings.

I’ve written to senior parents separately, as there is a lot coming up for them!

All the best,

Inquire Now