You might wonder what exactly an Academic Dean does. When I first saw the job posting, I went to the most obvious source of enlightenment — etymology. The title dean has a long narrative in ecclesiastical and educational history, originally designating a priest who led a chapter of ten other clergy. (The Latin word for it was decani, signifying ten. Decani also is technically the name for the side of the church that doesn’t have the choir on it, but it seemed unlikely to me that I’d been hired to be a side of a church. It’s quite outside my skill set.) Over the years, the title has evolved to mean someone in a position of leadership, usually responsible for a cathedral or a division of an academic institution.
In this particular case, part of my job is thinking through curriculum and professional development as well as what your children need to learn to thrive in the future, how they need to be taught, and how the school can evolve as students’ needs evolve.
As we’re making these shifts, part of my decanal duties is communicating information on various academic topics with parents, helping you to understand why Visitation (or indeed schools in general) are making changes to what we experienced when we were students.
When my daughter started kindergarten, I was occasionally frustrated1 when she asked me for help in math because she was learning to do operations I understood, but with methods I didn’t. It seemed to me at first like needless complication until I realized that what her math program was doing was building number sense and an understanding of complex operations from an early age. It looked like a lot of fuss and bother to get to a simple answer, but there were reasons underlying the fuss and bother that made it worthwhile.
My hope is that by sharing with you what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and why, I can help you avoid this sort of confusion or irritation. I hope you’ll see it as a place where you can follow what’s going on academically and direct questions when you have them.
This is a polite circumlocution to avoid describing my feelings when I was having difficulty with KINDERGARTEN MATH.