So this is it — my last issue as editor of Independent School. I started working for NAIS back in 1993 and took over as editor of the magazine three years later when then-editor (and still-friend) Catherine O’Neill Grace left to pursue other interests. It was never my intention to stay for 23 years. My professional experiences to that point were basically four years and out. But as I sat down with the staff and editorial board each April and began mapping out the upcoming themes, I found myself energized all over again.
It’s been a wonderful journey. And it has been my privilege to work on a magazine committed to open, honest, thoughtful, direct conversation on the state of education — especially during an era so challenged by steady cultural change, with pressure on schools and educators to shift accordingly.
I want to thank my magazine colleagues — especially Ari Pinkus, Kitty Thuermer, Bridget Janicki, Edward Hoyt, Danita Oliver, Julia Robinson, and Catherine O’Neill Grace — for their wisdom, humor, tenacity, sharp editorial skills, and friendship. I also want to thank all the members of the editorial board —and there are a lot of you over the years — for your guidance and wisdom. Your insights born of years of work in the field have ensured that every issue of the magazine has value and resonates with the needs and interests of our readers.
I also want to thank the many contributing writers. A rough estimate from my time as editor is around 800 — many of whom are educators and administrators in the field or consultants or researchers working closely with schools. You are an amazing group of people — for both your commitment to quality education and your desire to push the conversation forward in print and online year after year.
I’m ending my time here with this issue on the humanities. It feels like a fitting theme to sail out on. I should say for the record that I care deeply about the sciences and arts, but I know that the humanities need our added support at a time in which, for whatever reason, the conversation on education has focused too myopically on college and job preparation. Helping young people think about college and careers matters, of course, but I don’t think that is the primary job of precollegiate education. Our primary goal may be the noblest and most difficult one: help generation after generation become as fully human as possible.
Writing on philosopher Arnold Toynbee and the humanities in Aeon magazine recently, Stanford University Professor Ian Beacock notes, “We forget sometimes (or are uncomfortable in saying) that the humanities are at root about questions of value: what it means to lead a good life or how to build a just society. Toynbee never forgot.”
Then he adds, “It’s time for us humanists to walk out on a limb…. We should be as engaged in the world as we are courageous in our convictions.”
I like to think of this issue as one such limb. Feel free to step out and join us.