February 8, 2016
In this week’s episode, Joel speaks with John Gould, the principal of Dartmouth High School in Dartmouth Massachusetts about the impact of his own schooling, teaching independent thinking, and the power of public education.|
“Today, we don’t have all the answers but we aren’t ignoring the questions and we’re trying to address them. And that’s empowering.” — John Gould
The Impact of Public Education
Diagnosed early on with a language learning disability, John was sent by taxi at the tender age of four to receive special help to learn how to speak. His experiences left him with an immense feeling of gratitude for the teachers and adults in his life who helped him persevere through his own learning challenges. These feelings inspired John throughout his education and now in how he helps educate. He sees public education as crucial and adept at not only helping students with learning challenges but also addressing the social/emotional issues in their lives.
Teaching Students to be Independent Thinkers
John was approached by a student who was distressed with the textbook she the school was using for their World Studies Class. She brought it to Gould’s attention that many of the sources were 20 plus years old or older, with some that were published in the 1950s. After approaching the publishers, eventually the student contacted the press to bring the issue to the public. Education is not about blind adherence, but the inquisitive, fact-based challenging of authority and the status quo.
Oftentimes topics can activate the rumor mill in communities. At Dartmouth issues that have caused a stir include the abolishing of GPAs and changes to state regulations regarding graduation robes with regard to gender. Through clear, transparent communication to the community while keeping the welfare of the students at the forefront, Gould has been able to traverse these sticky situations. Ultimately and quite simply, education is about helping people manage their emotions and identify their goals.
Gould’s One Wish for Change in Public Schools
John would staff one educator or administrator to manage a discretionary fund to help students with financial issues and provide small resources to make sure student could go on field trips, get a new back pack, or a taxi home when their parents can’t help. These seemingly small hurdles can really hold students back and just a little help can make a world of difference.
Getting to Yes — Bruce Patton, Roger Fisher, and William Ury
Teacher Man — Frank McCourt
The Last Line — William Manchester
John Gould on Twitter @DHSPrincipal555