The Hyde Classroom vs. a Traditional Classroom

By Malcolm Gauld
Hyde School President

At first glance, the Hyde classroom appears similar to that of any number of traditional college preparatory schools. For example, the faculty have liberal arts degrees and tend to rely on the Socratic method. However, there are at least two distinctions worth mentioning here.

1. First, our teachers’ commitment to Hyde’s Learning Promise:

“To graduate writers, speakers, and problem-solvers.”

We spend a lot of time on these three objectives.

For example, we write in the classroom, in school-wide journaling, and as part of our Family Education Program.

Not only is public speaking a firm expectation in daily classes and during weekly school meetings, every graduate delivers a 2-minute speech in front of the entire Hyde community at annual commencement exercises.

As for problem-solving, in addition to our academic curriculum, each student tests his or her leadership capabilities through personal and group challenges on a daily basis with peers and family members.

2. Second, Hyde’s deep commitment to the notion of “attitude over aptitude” permeates our classrooms and everything we do beyond them.From our term grade report cards to our academic awards at Baccalaureate exercises, we focus on attitude and effort.

While we have arrived at these priorities as practitioners in the field, more and more educational researchers are coming to this same conclusion through extensive studies of student performance.  Stanford’s Carol Dweck (author of the ground-breaking 2008 book Mindset – The Psychology of Success) says,

“Don’t tell your kids that they are smart. More than three decades of research shows that a focus on effort — not on intelligence or ability — is key to success in school and in life.”

We concur: Praise kids for their effort and they’ll keep working through ups and downs. Praise them for their intelligence and not only will they learn to view their failures as evidence of stupidity, they’ll start to dodge challenges holding uncertain outcomes, the very challenges that are necessary for character development and personal growth.

Dweck writes,

“Kids are exquisitely attuned to the real message, and the real message is, ‘Be smart.’ It’s not, ‘We love it when you make mistakes and learn.’”

That is the message and expectation at Hyde!