What is the problem for which this is the solution?
Long-time Hyde enthusiast, supporter, and consultant, John Young would often ask, “What is the problem for which this is the solution?” The short answer: In serving all our students, we have come to realize that a “one size fits all” approach is not always best.
In fact, the “one size” approach may well have fueled a number of timeless institutional dilemmas. As an example, Hyde has always struggled with the challenge of balancing individual initiative with the need to nurture a supportive group culture. This particular dilemma presents itself annually on that first Summer Challenge Program hike when a Discovery Group sets off on the trail and a palpable tension ignites between the energetic jack rabbits who don’t want to be held back and the more lethargic out-of-shape students who don’t think they can take another step.
Speaking personally, 40+ years ago when Ken Grant ’72 and I were Hyde seniors, we were asked to move into a dorm to help a struggling freshman get through the spring term. I think we helped this young man. I know we enriched ourselves. However, it could be said that our commitment to this arrangement ultimately caused us to put some of our own more individual challenges on hold.
Inherent in Hyde’s principle of Brother’s Keeper is the dilemma of balancing the needs of the “kept” with those of the “keeper.” Sometimes the “keeper” feels held back from personal excellence and the “kept” develops a counter-productive perception that “acting out gets me more attention than pursuing my best.”
Another timeless problem with the “one size” concept involves the notion of incentive. Since Hyde’s very beginning, more than a few students have reasoned, “I have a very clear picture of what happens to me if I get it wrong (e.g., 5:30, work crew, concern meetings, outposts, etc.), but I have a hazy picture of what happens to me if I get it right.” Historically, sometimes the punishment side of the equation has been more readily apparent than the reward side.
Furthermore, in between these two extremes lies the group of students in the middle. Hyde alums “of a certain age” might remember the term “Smiling Zero.” While this term has been out of circulation for decades, the phenomenon of a student settling into a level of effort that is just a notch or two above unacceptable but a far cry from excellence is also timeless. Therefore, our three levels are designed to better tailor our teaching, our programs, our activities, our resources, and our punishment/reward realties to the specific needs of all our students.
Next: EEMO – The structure for the 3 phases.
Onward, Malcolm Gauld