Here are two things that I need to remind myself are usual at Hyde but necessarily usual at most other schools. First, during the three week August orientation program, the students, student leaders and faculty, myself included, had a “seminar” in which we cleared the decks with each other. Clearing the decks is a simple concept: giving voice publicly to those attitudes or concerns or even compliments that we have not yet done so. With the August orientation group, we began with clearing the decks on our own attitudes and concerns about ourselves, and then moved to concerns we had for others. Two and a half hours later, each of us had voluntarily asked for and received an evaluation of our strengths and challenges. The comments were honest, sometimes difficult to say and to hear, but I believe in the end productive and helpful. My conclusion: Students especially want to have honest, genuine relationships with each other and with adults, and will do so when given the opportunity.
The second thing is students “turning themselves in” to the Dean of Students for indiscretions unknown by the Dean or any other faculty member. In other words, the student got away with it, whatever it is, but decided to be truthful anyway. Why? The answer I hear more than any other is, “I knew it was the wrong thing to do, and I’ve thought about it more days than not since. I just don’t want to be carrying that around anymore, especially since I want to have a great year.” I admire these students more than I can say. (My next entry will be about the parent who “turned herself in,” which I also admire greatly.) Different situation than the first one, but my conclusion is the same: Students want to have honest, genuine relationships with each other and with adults, and will do so when given the opportunity.