Chutzpah and Humility

Tim Breen, Head of School
Author and educator Parker Palmer has written that chutzpah and humility are the essential qualities citizens must have in order for democracy to thrive. He recently said, “You need the chutzpah to know that you have a voice worth speaking, and things worth saying, and you need the humility to know that it’s vital to listen, because you may not have it right at all, or only a very partial grasp on the truth.”
At White Mountain, we believe the same applies to students and learning. Students need the humility to truly listen to the lessons of the past and the great ideas of our predecessors. Learning is a humble act. You must acknowledge that you have something to learn. You must be open to feedback from you your teachers and peers. You must have a degree of reverence for our shared intellectual heritage.
But this is not enough. Students need chutzpah too. As Jacob Bronowski said about students, “they are not here to worship what is known, but to question it.” Our students must learn to frame great questions and develop the tools and inclination to follow their questions wherever they lead. They need to develop the courage and the conviction to make a contribution to our world, to make a difference.
This is why learning at White Mountain blends authentic inquiry and deep engagement with our intellectual heritage. Chutzpah and Humility.

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