Three themes that define a Woodstock education

Three themes that define a Woodstock education

Woodstock Principal Dr Jonathan Long shares three themes that define our approach to education.

Why do we send children to school? There are probably dozens of answers to this question! And that’s a problem – because not all schools agree on what the purpose of schooling should be and why we bother to educate children at all.  Some people say we send children to school to learn.  But the reality is, a lot of what goes on in the name of learning is actually all about achieving – and that’s not the same thing by any means!  Others will say that education should be about learning to think critically.  Sadly, all too often education is actually more about memorisation and exam preparation. Many people say education should focus on developing characters and minds. In practice, however, a lot of education focuses on very narrow definitions of success – defining it in terms of its impact on GDP or its ability to get young people into certain careers.

By sending your son or daughter to Woodstock, you have committed them to a particular type of education – an education which has very specific goals based on a very specific approach. I’d like to share some essential themes which define our approach to education here at Woodstock.

Nothing we do is haphazard

Everything we do is based on our carefully thought out educational philosophy This approach to education has the power to develop exceptional scientists and artists, entrepreneurs and philosophers, humanitarians and business men and women. But, funnily enough, the aim of a Woodstock education is not to produce scientists and artists, entrepreneurs and philosophers, humanitarians and business men and women!  It is not about preparing our students for specific jobs at all.  The aim is to produce free human beings who know how to use their minds and are able to think for themselves.  This education allows young people to find their voice, to speak their mind, and to ‘learn how to learn’. So, whenever we face a new problem, a challenge or a decision, we ask ourselves, “is this consistent with our underlying philosophy?”

There are more classrooms than you can see

In Woodstock’s philosophy of education, we spell ‘Curriculum’ with a capital ‘C’! In many schools, if you ask to see a copy of the curriculum, you will be shown an academic syllabus, subject plans and course outlines. At Woodstock, ‘Curriculum’ includes all those things which are deliberately intended to convey and enhance the educational experience. It encompasses everything from the academic curriculum to music, drama, outdoor education, technology, community service, opportunities for performance, sports and the residential and spiritual life of the community. In combination, these various components represent the unique contribution we can make to the shape and direction of a young person’s life.  We do not see enrichment as something which is, by definition, extra-curricular. We do not see the boarding experience simply as a place where students sleep at night. Alongside our academic programme, we see enrichment and residential life as equal and fundamental building-blocks of a Woodstock education.

We deliberately emphasise the whole person

We value the balanced development of the whole person; that is, one which encourages an integrated development of potential across a range of dimensions, including the spiritual, academic, moral, aesthetic, emotional, social and physical. We are working hard to develop this emphasis more robustly – to find ways to support wellness and wellbeing more fully.

Woodstock students do not come here to be educated – as if education were some commodity to be handed out like a bag of sweets. They come here to be educated in the original sense of the Greek word for education – to have something drawn out rather than something put in! They leave here not as ‘the learned’ but as capable ‘learners’ – able to go out into the world with the curiosity to ask questions and the tools to be critical of what they find and to refuse to accept the world as they find it. That is the essence of a Woodstock education – to be truly and intensely alive; to see a life of learning as an exceptional gift and to hold that gift dear for a lifetime long.

Dr Jonathan Long, Principal

  • pratima Chauhan
    Posted at 16:51h, 10 August Reply

    But sir, very few have the potential ,in sense of money,to send their child to Woodstock

    • Will Ferguson
      Posted at 16:22h, 20 August Reply

      Hi Pratima, Thanks for your comment.

      Woodstock always welcomes applications from highly motivated, talented high school students, regardless of their financial circumstances. For those who demonstrate merit and financial need, we offer a comprehensive program of financial aid that is unmatched in India. For the 2015-2016 academic year (the latest figures published at this stage), Woodstock offered nearly 1.4 million US Dollars in financial aid to qualified young men and women from around the world. In addition, exceptional universities around the world offered the graduating class of 2016 approximately $1.4 million in scholarships and financial aid.

      One powerful example of how we use our financial aid programme to deliver the greatest possible impact is our Scholarships for Peace initiative, which provides opportunities for gifted your people from fragile states or conflict-affected regions to study at Woodstock. In some cases this support has covered 100% of school fees as well as some expenses. So far recipients of the Scholarships for Peace initiative have come from countries including Syria, Afghanistan, Palestine and Somaliland. You can find out more about it here:

      Will Ferguson, Woodstock School

    Posted at 08:36h, 31 May Reply

    Dear Dr. Jonathan Long,

    I am really impressed with the note from the Principal about the approach to education.

    Normally test-> score -> rank is the pathway for measuring the success of a learner in schools. But in my view, the process of learning is very complex and not transparent, and easy to test and grade.

    Now, many educators and schools are thinking and acting beyond memorizing skills of the students, but they move towards a research-based approach to learning and understanding facts. In the earlier approach, ‘know-what’ or memorizing facts were evaluated, but ‘know-why’, ‘know-how’, and ‘how-can-I’ are being used as the tools for evaluation and grading. This approach is appreciated in US-style schools and I am happy to work in such a system.

    I have project-based lessons in my AP Computer Science and Design Technology classes. In technology classes, there is no need of memorizing anything, but I don’t know how much this approach is applicable to other subjects.

    But I heard from successful people that “school is just for school, but not for life!”, “I am not using whatever I learned in my school!!”, “Whatever I do for my life is not learned from my schools!!”. These statements are pointing against the systems and styles of our fundamental schooling. Most people talk about the education system, and they say it is not on the right track but no one dares to change it.

    For anyone for his/her success, IQ is not the only factor but EQ, SQ, and EI are playing a big role.

    I couldn’t stop myself from commenting here, because this is what we need for a better learning house – school!


    AP Computer Science and Design Technology Teacher, HoD Tech,
    RDF International School,

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