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Reflections from the Head of School 

Ant Man

This past Friday night, I was flying to Baltimore with my sons, Peter and Joseph, to attend some family holiday events. When we sat down in our row, they began touching the seatback screen, loudly declaring they were not going to watch movies—they were going to play video games. I immediately fretted for the people seated in front of us. When the boarding door closed, two of the seats were empty, so I switched with Joseph and sat behind the one seat that was occupied. I was going to watch a movie, not bang on the screen repeatedly throughout the flight.

After the safety demonstration video, I began my search for something to watch. A few minutes later, I found myself repeatedly pressing the back button—harder and harder each time—because it was not functioning properly. I could see the headrest move with each forceful press. I had become my boys.

With the screen in front of me not working correctly, I turned to my phone once airborne, signed in, and began watching Ant-Man (As an aside: I have a penchant for comic book hero movies on airplanes. As a second, Ant-Man related aside: I came across this article this morning.). As the Marvel intro lit up my phone screen, I thought to myself how amazing it was that I was hurtling through the sky at 500 miles per hour streaming a movie that I couldn’t get to work on the screen in front of me.

It brought me back almost eighteen years, walking down the driveway of my first boarding school. A colleague told me that one day we would be watching television on our phones. I distinctly remember taking my “brick” phone out of my pocket, looking at him, and saying “No way.”  

Thankfully, there are much smarter people than me out there, and, because of them, I am now able to enjoy the panoply of comic book hero movies, in flight, on my cell phone.

Those “smarter people” were students not that long ago. And their schools had no idea that change would come so quickly—specifically, but not exclusively in the world of tech. Thankfully, we are changing and adapting; we are becoming more comfortable preparing our students for jobs that don’t exist in fields that don’t exist. This is something Shattuck-St. Mary’s School does exceedingly well: alongside traditional curriculum we teach students to be agile thinkers, empower them to take ownership over their learning, challenge them to see constraints as catalysts for innovative solutions, and demand they learn to communicate and collaborate effectively.

So, just as I had my certainty shattered about watching movies on cell phones years ago, I am reminded that Shattuck-St. Mary’s students learn to never say, “No way.” For that, I am grateful.