The philosophy of Hillrange School is based on an integral, well-rounded and personalized education which aims at a harmonious development of the person in accord with the Christian conception of man and of life. It recognizes and promotes the role of parents as the primary educators of their children.
Our style of educating permits a wide variety of pedagogical methods and approaches so long as they are coherent with the philosophy of the school.
The following ideas will serve to clarify the major aspects of the school’s educational philosophy and to highlight some of the implications for its operations.
Education understood as a project of a child’s improvement and full development, is conceived as the prerogative of parents. The school plays a secondary and collaborative role.
i. The task of educating is a common project which consists in a process of humanization or personal improvement. On the one hand, it demands the personal effort of the child to grow in responsibility. On the other hand, it demands help and support from others who guide the child by their words and example – especially the parents who have a God-given responsibility to bring up their children.
ii. Parents have an inalienable right and responsibility for the education of their children. They are the primary educators. The school collaborates with them in this task in a secondary or subsidiary capacity. This is because however great the educative influence of the school may be, it can never attain the depth, extension or continuity provided by the family environment. The family is the proper ambit for the development of the child. It is there that he acquires values and attitudes and attains sensorial, linguistic, moral, intellectual and physical development.
iii. It is when both school and family share the same values and educative principles, that the child stands the chance of receiving quality education that is consistent, coherent, and that will lead to full personal development. Parents are therefore encouraged from the very beginning to participate actively in the school’s educative effort.
iv. The meeting of a student’s assigned advisor with parents is an appropriate forum for the teacher to offer advice and orientation regarding their child’s education. The school also offers training programmes to support parents in their educative role: family enrichment courses, family seminars and conferences, etc. Appropriate reading materials are also available to all parents. There is a constant flow of communication between the family and the school.
v. The day-school system which Hillrange operates is consistent with our stance on parental involvement. This system preserves the natural availability of parents to their adolescent children and hence provides an ample opportunity to watch them grow and develop, while making their educative input and transmitting values.
Every person is unique, and has both strengths and weaknesses. Good education must recognize this to meet the personal needs of the child.
i. This is an important aspect of the philosophy of Hillrange School. In our educative process, we strive to give personal attention to every student. However, personalized education is not a “method” of educating or teaching, but a perspective of education that is rooted in what is most profound about man – that he is a person.
ii. Endowed with intellect and free will, every person is loved by God for his own sake with his qualities, talents and capabilities. Therefore each student has a distinct learning style and interests. Through a personalized approach, the educator endeavours to accompany and stimulate each child to learn and develop at his pace.
iii. Academic work at Hillrange School is carried out with depth and seriousness. Teaching and evaluation are personalized in such a way that both the students who are strong and those who are weak at a particular subject, learn, and are adequately motivated to improve.
iv. The role of the Advisor is a direct and invaluable support for personalized education. His attention to every aspect of the student’s academic and character development, in close collaboration with his parents, ensures that every student is truly supported to reach his full potential in all areas of development: academic, moral, social, etc.
v. Adolescent boys and girls have different rhythms of development and maturation. Moreover their psychological make-up, interests and aptitudes are naturally different. In recognition of this reality and in order to maintain a personalized education, Hillrange School opts for single sex education (for boys) as a value in itself. Thus the boys receive an education that is adapted to the singularity and characteristics of their sex.
The child’s education embraces every aspect of his personal development – intellectual, physical, moral, social, etc.
i. We understand education as a total personal development: physical, intellectual, technical, cultural, social, moral, spiritual etc. However we do not see it as a mere juxtaposition of these various aspects, but as a harmonious educative endeavour that respects the singularity of each person.
ii. At Hillrange School, the Intellectual development of the students aims at grounding them in the academic requirements of the Nigerian secondary school curriculum. Moreover, we educate to broaden the students’ knowledge by inculcating in them love for knowledge, and the desire to learn. Thus, they do not limit themselves to studying recommended texts, but are encouraged to delve into the vast ocean of knowledge as a means of personal fulfillment, perfection and ultimately, of service to society.
iii. Through practical work, learning activities in and outside the classroom, and various other experiences, the students attain a deeper understanding of learned materials and acquire technical skills. Experiential learning also has an additional advantage of increasing the students’ love for learning. The school is fully equipped with relevant facilities to enhance the acquisition of practical skills: Science, ICT, and Music Laboratories, Basic Technology Workshop, etc.
iv. By encouraging teamwork in the classroom and through assigned projects, as well as at sports and other school activities, students hone their social skills and acquire requisite virtues. They become more generous, understanding, respectful, friendly, helpful, outgoing and above all, learn to detect and attend to the needs of their colleagues.
v. Moral and spiritual formation of the students is a premium at Hillrange School. We believe that everything rises or falls with moral rectitude. Like all the other aspects of formation, the student’s effort in this domain permeates his entire life in school and at home. It is anchored on freedom understood as knowing the right thing, wanting the right thing and doing the right thing because one wants to. Religious and spiritual formation in the school is entrusted to Opus Dei, an institution of the Catholic Church.
A person’s actions are only responsible, personally enriching, and therefore truly educative if they are free. Those who educate must foster authentic freedom.
i. Parents and teachers have to avoid certain attitudes which bedevil education: indoctrinating instead of teaching; instructing instead of educating; excessive control instead of trying to aim at the free development of the student’s potential. To educate is not to exert pressure on a mold. It is a process which has its point of reference in the truth, which the student has to be helped to discover and supported to freely live by.
ii. To educate in freedom is to advise and to guide the person being educated. It is to help develop his autonomy according to his age and maturity, and avoid yielding to his taking refuge in the false security of a passive dependence. It is to help the student understand that only the person who acts in accordance with the truth, is indeed free.
iii. Therefore, we do not try to substitute the will of the student by pointing out to him at every moment, what he has to do. Instead, we help him face his responsibilities and support him in making good and informed choices. If parents and teachers lower the bars by demanding stereotypical external conducts, by the force of insistence, they could make the child accept indications, but would have missed an opportunity of helping him to know himself, to discover and make his own these norms of conduct, and live them out with freedom and personal responsibility.
iv. The school and family atmosphere are the proper environment for the child to learn how to assume responsibilities, relate with others, be of service to them and discover the fulfilling value of self-giving. The school fosters the sense of responsibility in students through various assigned small jobs in the classroom. Some students also participate in leadership within the school by forming part of their Class Councils.
A teacher, and a role model, the true educator pays attention to his own personal development, while striving to support his students in attaining an all round education.
i. At Hillrange School, the teacher understands that his main task is to collaborate with parents in forming their children, and that no matter what subjects he teaches he is first and foremost an educator. He therefore strives to help the students strengthen their character by acquiring human virtues. He fosters in them the capacity for work and responsible freedom. An educator does not have to be an exceptional person, but he does have to strive to be coherent in his personal and social life. He is a man of integrity.
ii. The task of educating demands competence, maturity, emotional balance, enthusiasm and interest for one’s personal improvement. Even little details of refinement in dealing with others and of maintaining a good human tone – a smile, good humour and proper dressing – facilitate an indispensable climate for a friendly relationship with students. This attitude is not in any way an invitation to permissiveness, which would cheapen his position as an educator and a professional; rather it is the educational method that achieves the best result.
iii. The educator is disposed to treat every child with firmness, understanding and respect. He listens to the student with attention, corrects him with clarity and affection, and avoids humiliating him. He is just and fair in his dealings with students and their parents and eschews every semblance of favouritism.
iv. In his endeavour to ensure discipline and appropriate conduct among the students at all times, the educator employs the means recommended by the school in accord with its educational philosophy: explaining, instructing, correcting, admonishing, advising… in a word, encouraging the child to do the right thing. When necessary, he punishes the offending student as a corrective measure. He is never vindictive rather, he always seeks to correct. Corporal punishment with all its extensions is not consistent with the school’s philosophy and therefore not employed at Hillrange School.
v. Finally, effective education should be carried out in the context of love and understanding. The educator should know how to love and thus be able to appreciate the true needs of the students and readily put himself out to care for them, give them good example and guide them with his instructions. As a result, he achieves an environment of order and discipline which should characterize a good school.