What is College Culture?
As I was walking around the grounds before dinner at last weekend’s conference, I noticed each building had an interesting name. My favorite was “Nirvana” as it reminded me of a course I took in college named Utopian Studies. It’s interesting to think about the names of things. And I started thinking about why all our classrooms are named after colleges.
We originally gave each classroom a college name because we wanted to create a college culture. But what is college culture? In the best public and private schools in our country, there is an assumption that students will go to college, that is, there is a college-bound culture. What does such a culture look like?
For me, college is all about freedom, exploration, intellectual curiosity, and finding oneself. Authentic college culture, therefore, is not about college names. It’s about student empowerment and the interesting kind of skepticism that comes with being a well-educated person.
What if we named classrooms after great authors, great thinkers, great leaders, artists, scientists, philosophers? What if students, at a certain age, could choose the name of their homeroom as a bonding experience? Now that we’re becoming a full Kindergarten through 12th grade school system, it’s important to think about what should be consistent for a student who attends HVA for 13 years, and what should feel different as they grow.