At BWL, we believe education is not only enhanced by positive relationships with teachers and peers, but those relationships are essential to every student’s educational success. To that end, we place a specific focus on developing the critical skills necessary to participate in constructive, thoughtful, and challenging dialogue.
Our current climate of discourse favors talking points over actually talking, and the temptation is to reduce others to their most disagreeable opinions. This severely limits students’ ability to engage with challenging ideas and discourages students from speaking their mind. Students have come to be afraid of their own language.
Head of School Bill Kuhn has emphasized the need for students to be aware of their language, but not afraid of it. Our Student Prefects (11th and 12th grade leaders selected through a rigorous application process) are trained in peer facilitation and how to mediate difficult conversations to both set the example for other students and encourage civil debate in the classroom and outside of it. Our faculty are trained in pedagogical approaches that favor deep investigation of ideas, such as the use of Harkness Circles and the Socratic method.
BWL’s goal is always to teach our students how to think, but not what to think.
Explore some of our school's media coverage regarding BWL's approach to Constructive Dialogue:
Head of School Bill Kuhn’s op-ed in Bloomberg and The Washington Post on the issue of student self-censorship in American high schools.
Scripps News report on self-censorship among students, featuring Head of School Bill Kuhn and a few BWL Student Prefects.
Social media provides its own unique challenges to engaging in constructive dialogue, and to address this, BWL has partnered with The Social Institute. By locking arms with the Social Institute, we will equip students with the skills they need to navigate their social worlds, online and offline, empower student voices, and strengthen school culture.
Through a positive, student-centered approach, The Social Institute provides a gamified, online learning platform that empowers students to navigate their well-being, social media, and tech in ways that fuel their health, happiness, and future success. Their work has been applauded by Melinda Gates and featured in Today, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times.