CHARACTER FIRST by Joseph W. Gauld

CHARACTER FIRST

The Hyde School Difference
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Louisa May Alcott would applaud the Hyde School experiment as outlined in this history by its founder and former headmaster. In Jo's Boys, a sequel to Little Women, Alcott sent Jo and her Professor Baer off to the woods to start a school for incorrigible boys. Gauld did much the same, turning a historic estate in remote Bath, Maine, into a private boarding school for boys and girls who struggle unsuccessfully with traditional academic programs. Like Alcott, Gauld emphasized character. Not all of his youngsters had behavior problems--some were simply unable to get into the college of their choice and looked to Hyde to maximize their SATs. But Gauld holds no brief for SAT scores and high grade-point averages: The goal at the Hyde School is to instill values and to cultivate each student's ``unique potential.'' Diplomas are awarded on the basis of maximum personal growth, and academics do not count (although Hyde will certify to admissions offices that students are academically prepared for college). Mottos (``Courage, Integrity, Concern, Curiosity, Leadership''); principles (``Humility, Conscience, Truth''); an honor code; and quotations from Kahlil Gibran help map the way for Hyde students. Most important is the involvement of the parents, who are required to attend retreats and workshops, and to participate in the school's Parent Learning Center programs, where they explore their own behavior, values, goals, and relationships. Although the Hyde program smacks of elitism--a foreword by Cher, whose son attended the school, strengthens that impression--Gauld's philosophy of education parallels that of inner-city school leader Madeline Cartwright (Lessons from a Visionary Principal, reviewed above). Hyde's program is worthy--but a plethora of patting-our-own- back anecdotes, as well as accolades from parents and former students, make this more testimonial than guidebook.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 1-55815-262-8
Page count: 192pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1993