Deerfield is old. How old, you ask? Well, the US Constitution is older… but not by much. For an institution to last 221 years, it must evolve and adapt to changes in people, culture, and technology. But, perhaps just as importantly, it must also hold onto things that are good. Traditions are a way of preserving institutional culture to help us frame out activities and shape our identity.
This is the latest installment in the Experimentory Blog’s Sampling Deerfield series. These posts examine the ways in which Experimentory students sample our parent institution, Deerfield Academy. When an artist samples music, the result isn’t a copy or cover of the original, but rather a unique piece indebted to the source material. In a similar way, the Experimentory includes a remix of Deerfield Academy traditions. Experimentory students feel at home at Deerfield with the chords they get to know during their summer with us, even if Deerfield’s school year is set to a different beat.
Let’s hear how some of the DA traditions appear over the summer.
|The Rock – No, Dwayne Johnson is not a Deerfield alumnus. The Rock is a craggy outcrop on the hill just west of our campus. It is a great place to look down on Deerfield Campus and the Valley – and students have been admiring that view for as long as we’ve had a school here – and so do we at the Experimentory.|
|Sit Down Meals – Six times a week Deerfield Academy has formal meals with assigned seats of randomly grouped students and teachers. They encourage us to mix outside our normal social circles and practice good etiquette. Experimentory sit downs are modified for summer: formal dress is not required and sit downs are only at lunch time, but the emphasis on forming community across the program remains the same.|
|Engaging with Others, Not Technology – You’ll notice something strange and counter-cultural when you walk across campus or enter our Dining Hall: people aren’t glued to their phones! Deerfield Academy limits phone use in public and encourages people to engage with the people around them rather than those only present electronically. The Experimentory takes this farther, limiting phone use to just a couple nights a week.|
|The Deerfield Experience – This is an umbrella heading that includes dozens of little traditions: discussion-based classes, co-curricular activities in the afternoon, dorm proctors to shape community life, expectations of mutual respect and kindness. These things are small singly but substantial when added all together.|