Paideia is the ancient Greek word meaning both education and culture. It fits TASIS, a consortium of educational institutions and programs sharing a common culture rooted in classical ideas and Western civilization. Whereas much of modern education appears to be about advancing new theories of utilitarian learning and providing settings for utopian social experiments, the TASIS paideia begins with a profound respect for the past and for traditional ways of doing things. Although research and theory are important in our quest for knowledge, we believe that they are only helpful in the field of education when matched with experience.
We believe, therefore, that schools should conserve and convey the rich inheritance of intellectual, social, moral, religious and artistic wisdom of generations and centuries. This wisdom provides each young person with the best path to his highest human potential and a happy, productive and virtuous life. A school without the traditional virtues of civilization – faith, hope and charity; prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude – may be elegant on the outside and impressive in its academic accomplishments, but its influence will ultimately be pernicious and foolish.
To preserve this paideia, the Founder and the Foundation Board have outlined the following standards and principles to guide future Directors and Administrators in their policy and decision-making and to provide some context for the rules and regulations already presented in the Schools’ Student and Faculty Handbooks:
- We teach good manners by modeling them. We strive for courteous behavior at all times, even under stress. “Manners maketh man,” wrote William Wykham, founder of Winchester College. We agree. Courtesy keeps us – teachers and students, adults and children – happy, purposeful and poised, able to show the respect for one another we ought to feel, and quick to treat one another with cordial dignity. Courtesy is the necessary ground for our communal and scholarly lives.
- Beauty matters. Graceful settings; inspired architecture. Paintings on walls, candles and flowers on tables, fire in fireplaces, fine dress and a comely appearance. A well-crafted essay, a curving corner kick in soccer, a canvas on display at the Arts Festival, and a solo at the Christmas concert. In beauty we show our regard for one another and for ourselves. It is a form of courtesy. In beauty we also show our desire for the truth, the two being mystically bound together in our cultural inheritance.
- “Let knowledge grow from more to more,” wrote Tennyson, “but more of reverence in us dwell.” TASIS is non-sectarian; however, it respects and encourages the religious beliefs and observances of its students and families, and it seeks to support a due reverence for God and His creation in all its students. It acknowledges and teaches the profound influence of Judeo-Christian beliefs and practices on Western civilization.
- TASIS supports and promotes traditional family values. TASIS expects its teachers and administrators to assume in loco parentis responsibility for students, to model traditional moral character and to respect the ethos of the School as expounded in this Paideia. Those who occupy School accommodation, whether or not on campus, are required to lead their private lives accordingly. TASIS regards sex as a private matter, but those who by their words or deeds make their sexual or other private acts public have stepped over this line and forfeited their “right” to privacy and so invite public consequences. In all cases, the public standing of the School, especially in the eyes of parents and in the educational world, will be a determining factor.
- TASIS recognizes the importance of teaching fitness and healthy habits of living. This recognition requires that the Schools take special care in offering nutritious meals, insisting upon timely sleeping arrangements, and encouraging students to participate in a wide range of outdoor and physical activities. It also means proscribing certain types of activities and substances. For example, illegal and recreational drugs are not tolerated at TASIS.
- Much of what makes TASIS distinctive results from the entrepreneurial style of its founder, whose ability to see and seize opportunities and to respond to needs with alacrity is legendary. Thanks to her, TASIS enjoys a culture that encourages and rewards initiative and creativity. This may account for some of the American “style” of the schools. In addition to individual initiative and creativity, this culture demands an acceptance of risk, flexibility, patience, a positive attitude, and perseverance.
- Committed to academic excellence, TASIS has made its natural and cultural setting in Europe its classroom. This is the schools’ signature. Consequently, the priority of TASIS’ academic and travel programs is a deep and informed appreciation for European culture and history and its worldwide influences. No school can do everything, although many schools are awash in curricular confusion and constituent politics by trying to please every personal preference and cultural demand. Not TASIS.
We, the Founder and Directors of TASIS, believe it is our responsibility to define what our schools stand for and what habits of heart and mind they exist to preserve and pass on to the young. This is paideia, the soul of any true school’s mission. Consequently, we have herein stated what we believe is right and proper for TASIS. We do not want our institution’s paideia to be diluted or compromised; therefore, we insist that those who govern our schools, administer them, and teach in them share these values, not because we demand obedience to our norms, but because we want only those who already share these norms to join us in these roles at TASIS.