The Field School

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The founder of The Field School, Elizabeth Ely, maintained that "dialogue in an atmosphere of mutual respect creates the dynamic energy that motivates students and teachers to give their best to each other and to their work." Today, Field's academic philosophy remains unchanged—we believe that small classes are the key to a great secondary school education.


Small classes afford each student attention and give teachers the opportunity to respond quickly to need; they foster the understanding and confidence so essential to learning academic and social skills; and they demand the critical thinking that is vital both to communication and to the expression of the generosity of heart that holds a community together.


At Field, the emphasis is on the core academic skills rather than the memorization of a litany of facts. Our classes provide students with instruction in critical thinking, analysis, problem-solving, discussion, and writing. Our students leave for college with the tools they need to think and perform academically.

Field's academic philosophy rests on the principle that students learn most effectively when they are engaged individually and in a comfortable setting that allows for dialogue, doing and creativity.

As a practical matter, this philosophy relies on small classes and excellent teachers. In the largest sense, Field stands for an education that creates a genuine excitement about learning.

Dale Johnson
Head of School


All Field students are highly intelligent, but they do not all learn in the same way or at the same pace. We know that there are all kinds of minds and that students have different strengths and weaknesses. That's why our classes are small: because we are dedicated to teaching (and assessing) in a variety of ways—through hands-on instruction, in small groups, using art or creativity, by discussion, by lecture. Many different students thrive in our classrooms, including those with mild-to-moderate diagnosed learning differences. But all of our students are keenly engaged, with teachers and with each other, in classrooms rich in conversation. This is a deeply-felt part of our school's purpose.


Elizabeth Ely stated that "The Field School takes its name from the idea of the connectedness of life." Students study coherent "fields" of knowledge. "Our aim is to point to the unity of experience, enabling students to build a coherent personal vision." This goal is reiterated by our mission: Self-Discovery—Skills of Mind—Generosity of Heart. These seven words are well-known by every student and teacher in the school and they come alive in every class, every day.