This is a guiding principle for many boarding schools and we as adults all have some sort of an idea what it refers to, acknowledge its validity and fill it with very personal associations. Yet some skepticism remains, doesn't it? Are we talking about an educational idea or do boarding schools just have to condensate their work into a slogan, or a motto? Is this the reduction of a really complex concept into one single, simple sentence?
Some years ago I taught a class of 10 students, aged 14-17, who came from seven different countries. When we covered the topic "education and different types of schools" I asked my students if they would rather attend a "normal" school or a boarding school. I was looking forward to a vivid discussion with controversial arguments, not only with the educational goal that my students could use their newly acquired means of verbal expression. I myself had never attended a boarding school and for me back then obviously I could imagine disadvantages. Yet the planned discussion never took place! All of my students shared the same opinion: for them it must be a boarding school because there they would not only go to school but would always be surrounded by friends and feel like part of one big family. A boarding school for them is "more than just a school"!
So this is what it's all about! Life at a boarding school is indeed very complex, especially for the many staff members working there. Yet our students put it in a nutshell: We are their family, and their fellow students, who at the same time are their house mates, are their friends! For the students, the explanation of our guiding principle is very easy!
And what do you think: don't we all show more commitment, more willingness to learn and engage, when we feel at ease, at home, in a family-like environment? Don't academic achievements and social competence develop best, where people live together treating each other with fairness and respect?
This is what the Humboldt-boarding school claims. We want to offer the best possible environment and the best conditions for a successful education for students who show academic and social commitment. At the same time, we want to mold their personality-development in regards of a responsible, independent and communal living.
Concerning the academic area we agree with the head master of the “Lindenberg Gymnasium” that it is not sufficient to bring students to the threshold of university by helping them achieve the school leaving certificate "Abitur". Instead, it is our common goal to open this door and to usher the students into university. Similarly, at the boarding school we see it as our duty to open social doors with and for them, and to bring them from the boarders' community into a successful future.