student with books

During presentations and conversations, I have been known to confidently state that I believe an Independent School education is the absolute best option in the education landscape. Better than Public School, Online School, Home School, Parochial School - you name it - Independent School is better. Now, full disclosure, I am a product of the system, so some believe me to be biased, but that doesn’t necessarily make me wrong. I think that when you drill down into what is most important -- it is a holistic education -- and Independent School provides more of it than any other option.

Now, I think it is important to make a distinction between Independent and Private. I do not think Independent Schools are better because they are Private. In fact, I think the exact opposite. I think the private nature of these schools is their biggest flaw. However, until we can determine a way to provide smaller classes, personal attention, a broad range of activities, arts, and athletics on multi-acre beautiful campuses at a lower cost, I am afraid we need to remain committed to our private model and strive to make the experience accessible for as broad and diverse a population as possible.

Because it is this diversity itself that adds true value to the education.

Let me turn back to my premise... Independent School is the best educational vehicle available. Independent Schools are the best option because they have the ability to do it all “under one roof”. They provide a first rate academic experience, a breadth of artistic, athletic and co-curricular opportunities, and they do so while caring for each student as an individual. Additionally, the value of an Independent School isn’t delivered in 45 or 50 minute increments, it is continuous. The teaching and learning does not exist between bells ringing signifying the starting and stopping of the educational experience. Independent School education happens everywhere – in the halls, during lunch, during free periods – it happens continuously across our campuses.  

Often you hear people speak about “teachable moments”, those events and opportunities that we can use to impart a lesson of sorts. As much as I love the idea, it all feels too random for me. I don’t want to wait for a random event, and then decipher some powerful lesson from it. In Independent Schools, we don’t wait for those moments to happen. We look for them and create them throughout our day. We don’t need books or classrooms  in order to teach our lessons. We just need kids, everything else is extra.

Balancing the Books is a blog written by Associate Head of School Steve Bristol. In this blog, he'll share his insights into the independent school world and the admission process.

Mr. Bristol joined The Hun School community in 2010, after working as a consultant for Independent Schools for several years. Before that, he served as an English teacher, coach, dorm head, and administrator. A boarding school graduate himself, Mr. Bristol attended Westminster School in Simsbury, CT. He holds a B.A. from Hamilton College and a M.S.Ed in School Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.