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Growth and Potential through Purposeful Practice

The Principal's Blog
February 1, 2021

Our staff is currently engaged on a semester-long intentional development of student growth and potential through the use of purposeful practice. Popularized by Ericsson and Pool's text Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, this is a much-older perspective, found in the writings of Charlotte Mason, among others. It has connections to the latest neuroscience discoveries as well as ancient wisdom in the Bible. As your principal, I am excited for new opportunities that we will have across our campus to better document, cultivate, and celebrate growth.

The basic idea of purposeful practice is that if a person wants to develop mastery and expertise in a habit, perspective, or skill, then the best way to do so is through very intentional practices with well-defined ways of acting and specific goals. This is not about working harder but differently, graciously encouraging ourselves to get out of our comfort zones and to move forward with growing in one or more specific areas at a time. It is about receiving and giving feedback on one's growth, making choices and asking for help. It is about being vulnerable for the sake of our children, but also for our own as well as we all need allies and support to faithfully fulfill our calling as a parent and/or teacher.

Besides tapping into the potential that God has put within each of us as His image-bearers, this is also about showing love to others. This is something that our world and culture desperately need--people living up to their potential for the good of others and the glory of God.

While this idea of purposeful practice is not new to our school, this is the first time that we have engaged all staff across our school to identify and develop practices to help each child and adult in our community grow. Of course, this also includes our parents! Your child's teachers will be in communication with you over the coming weeks to share with you what your child is practicing with his or her classmates. You will also have the opportunity to learn more about how you can foster similar purposeful practices at home. As home life is foundational to school life, this is a massive opportunity that we, as moms and dads, have to help our students grow in maturity, attention, and a host of other areas.

I recommend that each parent schedule some time over the next week to read the following two brief handouts that are helping to guide our cultivation of habit and character through purposeful practice.

"Bringing Children Up" discusses how vital it is to daily encourage your child to reach toward maturity through a deeper understanding of a person's will, nature, and capacity to grow.

Likewise, "Principles of Purposeful Practice" contains highlights of ideas and principles that are guiding our work with your child. Reading it will help you in your own childrearing at home.

After reading, I encourage you to dialogue with your child's teacher and even me on how we can work more closely together for the remainder of the semester. That is a worthy purposeful practice in which we may all grow!