In 2013, after a number of years of meeting and drafting, the Board of Trustees adopted this description of the Roeper Educational Model. In it, the school points out that its educational approach is particularly suitable for gifted students, but that the model holds validity for all forms of education. The importance of authentic relationships, of giving all students a voice, of presenting multiple perspectives, of focusing on problems, projects and complex questions, and of an institution committed to equality and justice, among other elements, are the path to nurturing empowered, engaged adults.
In this illuminating article by Roeper Upper School Director Karen Johnson, all the threads of a Roeper education are woven together: the tenets of the philosophy, their applicability to the complexity and precocity of gifted students, and the humanistic pedagogy that gives students their voice and their empowerment.
Citation: Johnson, Karen. “The Architecture of a Roeper Education,” Keeping in Touch: The Roeper School Community Magazine, Vol 11:3, Spring 2018, Bloomfield Hills, MI
Those who encounter George and Annemarie’s ideas about education have always been challenged to understand the meaning and implications of their philosophy. In 1963, the school faculty asked George to lead a seminar on the subject and, fortunately, he recorded it. In it, George, with his German phrasing, acknowledged that even though visitors to the school sense that it is a different kind of place, “we have difficulty to formulate it.”
George doesn’t provide a point-by-point explanation of the Philosophy here — or anywhere, actually — but this recording provides a unique opportunity to be part of a conversation with George, who died in 1992, and gain insight into the way he thought. George’s frame of view was always the future and how to educate children to meet an unknown future with flexibility, insight and tolerance. Note that the catalog George refers to is the document that eventually became the 1965 Statement of Policies.
Recording of the 1963 seminar
Partial transcript of the 1963 seminar
Citation: Roeper, G. (1963). “Seminar with Faculty,” The Roeper School Archives, Bloomfield Hills, MI.
Top photo by Carlos Goodman ’80
In the 1960s, George and Annemarie began working on a statement to reflect the school’s philosophy. The core principle of this statement was that the purpose of the school is to educate children to become “true members of modern world society.” To do this, the school needed to have a student body that reflected the diversity of the world, with a robust scholarship program to ensure that everyone who could benefit from the program, regardless of their economic status, could attend. George and Annemarie also specified a rigorous, well-rounded curriculum that supported each child’s psychological growth with an emphasis on critical thinking and creativity. This statement was adopted by the Board of Advisors in 1965.
This is a short and quite personal reflection on the Philosophy by George. The document is undated but he speaks of founding the school more than thirty years earlier, which would place this document in the 1970s. While he is reflecting on the changes over the years, he is also clearly referencing Annemarie’s growing feminist perspective and their evolving understanding of their individual contributions to the school. It appears to be the preface to a report, but the eventual use for this statement hasn’t been found. Both the original typescript and a retyped version are presented here.
For many years, Annemarie would visit the school in October from her home in Oakland, California, taking advantage of the season that was her favorite Michigan season. She would meet with students, faculty, and administrators, catching up on the school and providing advice. During her 1995 visit, she delivered a series of four lectures on gifted child development. The lectures were recorded and we have video and transcripts of the sessions. This is the first lecture, a history of the school, and the second, third, and fourth lectures are also on this website.