Well-Rounded Does Not Mean Doing Everything

Keith Driscoll

“We can do anything. Just not everything… At least not at the same time.”

Dan Millman

There is a lot that happens at SMUS. This is a good thing! We have intentionally created a program with considerable breadth in academics, arts and athletics to provide our students the opportunity to explore, discover and eventually go deeper into an area of interest. Just as important, they are able to create a better understanding of themselves as people. These experiences provide a training ground for the practice of making decisions, and deciding what to commit to and witnessing how these decisions impact outcomes, both for themselves and those they interact with. This helps prepare them for their future decisions, where the results will have farther reaching impacts.

We use words like well-rounded and holistic to describe this approach but I have noticed in my work that for some, this has become synonymous with “do everything available.” Of course, it is inevitable with this mindset that at some point the students will become overwhelmed either with the expectations of responsibility to the multiple commitments or from missing one experience to attend another. The latter often having an impact on others when it is a group or team activity.

The school understands this and works to provide this breadth in a manner that minimizes the potential for these conflicts to help keep a relative balance to a student’s experience. We do so by designing our programming from Kindergarten to Grade 12 so that it is developmentally appropriate for frequency, duration and required skill-set. This is rooted in our academic day through the school’s timetable that along with the sciences and humanities embraces the importance of art, music, physical education and languages far surpassing the Ministry’s requirements. In addition, we offer a vast array of extracurriculars that again are organized to optimize participation and commitment.

As your child moves through their learning experience they will have more flexibility and in turn some important decisions that will result in having to choose participation in one or several courses, activities, fine arts or sports, over others. While difficult, it is required in order to move beyond the exploration phase into the pursuing of a deeper understanding and more enriching experience. These moments are the perfect time to discuss priorities, values and what it means to commit to something.

In my experience, after having made some difficult choices to let some things go, students quickly come to the realization that their pursuit of more came at a cost that impacted the quality both in what they were trying to achieve and to themselves. This is also something we as a school will keep in mind as we embark on our new strategic plan.

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Keith Driscoll
Mr. Keith Driscoll is Director of Residence and Student Life at St. Michaels University School.

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