In the summer of 1883, renowned 19th-century educational leader and Parker namesake Colonel Francis W. Parker gave a series of talks at a Summer Institute on Teaching. Parker’s final talk that summer began as follows:

 “No matter how much educators may differ in regard to the means and methods of teaching, upon one point there is a substantial agreement; viz. that the end and aim of all education is the development of character. There is also, little or no difference of opinion, in regard to the elements that form the common ideal of character. Love of truth, justice, and mercy; benevolence, humility, energy, patience, and self-control, are recognized the world over, as some of the essentials that should govern human action.”

Even though fostering the common ideal of character permeates all that we do at Parker, we believe it is important and necessary to carve out time dedicated to providing thoughtful discourse on how to best live that ideal. Our mission compels us to prepare our students to make a meaningful difference in our world, and we feel that nowmaybe more than ever beforeis the time to invest deeply in what Col. Parker felt was the end and aim of all education. 

In this spirit, we are delighted to announce that Francis Parker School will offer a two-day forum consisting of a series of talks, virtual workshops and panels, parent education opportunities, and student-led discussions focusing on what Col. Parker referred to as the common ideal of character. 

It is our responsibility to the School, our mission, and, most especially, our students to ensure we invest deeply in this work. We must, as educators, help students learn to navigate differences in healthy ways. Teaching students the skills of dialogue and providing them opportunities to practice these skills in the classroom will give them tools and skills to navigate ideological differences and become effective leaders in our pluralistic democracy. At this moment in our history, a time where our public norms seem to be continually devolving, we are challenging ourselves, as one community, to be leaders in this work and model the ideals of Col. Parker.

On Thursday, October 15, and Friday, October 16, we invite the Parker community to come together and recommit to this common ideal. We will engage in honest, candid, and critical conversations about the inherent challenges of seeking truth, working toward justice, carrying oneself with humility and patience, and exercising self-control in the face of disagreement or opposition.

Details of the schedule will be forthcoming from the Lower, Middle, and Upper School communications.