In 1878 the Ethical Culture Society, led by Felix Adler, established a free kindergarten in New York City.
This space, founded for the children of working people, served a community that didn’t have access to formal education during this time. This free kindergarten would eventually became the Ethical Culture Fieldston School.
We carry the ethos of that founding kindergarten into the work that we do at the school everyday. We know that students learn best in a diverse community and as a result we believe that every child and adult should be able to bring their full selves into school every day. This belief was affirmed in 2013 in a diversity statement approved by our Board of Trustees:
The Ethical Culture Fieldston School has a long history of equity and inclusion deeply rooted in our mission and the educational philosophy of our founder, Felix Adler. We embrace diversity of ancestry, family, identity, culture, and belief and seek a student body and faculty that reflect the pluralism and socio-economic diversity of metropolitan New York. We affirm both our differences and commonalities, and strive to balance individuality and community. In keeping with our progressive tradition, we are dedicated to increasing our students’ cultural literacy to help them understand multiple perspectives, and see the world beyond the self. We expect members of our community to engage in open dialogue about living and learning in a diverse environment inside and outside the classroom. We see this work, with its creative tensions, as a catalyst for individual and collective growth. On a daily basis, we are committed to making this vision of a democratic, pluralistic and progressive school a reality.
Felix Adler believed in interrelatedness. The belief that every person impacts the lives of those around them. Our ethics and diversity curriculum and program affirm this belief. Students are taught how to recognize unfairness, how to be an ally to others, and to recognize the gifts that they have. These are life lessons that we hope will develop critical thinkers and active participants in the world around them.