Good morning and happy return to fall. We continue to look at different building options for the high school and while our hope is to purchase a suitable existing facility (or really cheap land!) we also want to look for a contingency plan to get up and open with our initial class of 9th graders. This would be a couple-of-classroom-sized space we could use for the first year (or two). If you are a member of a community, civic, social, or religious organization that has some spaces that sit unused during the weekdays, we would be interested in learning more about potentially leasing that space. The #1 clue that the space might meet school building code requirements is if it has a newer sprinkling system. So, look around as you go through your week this week – our school’s first home may be sitting under your nose! We just need to hear about it!
See below for a few thoughts on why we need to see this school come to be, in the first place.
Purpose at the center
Our mission is to support each of our students to construct a life of meaning and purpose, and this mission is built into the heart of our school design. This is an opportunity students in traditional high schools don’t often get, as Mind/Shift pointed this week in Helping Teens Find Purpose: A Tool For Educators To Support Students’ Discovery
“For you to have a sense of purpose you need two things: One, you need to know what’s important to you and what you care about,” Cook-Deegan said. “And two, you need to know how your work is going to have consequence in the world.” Many high school students go through four years of school doing exactly what they are told to do. The work often feels divorced from the real world — a prescriptive set of “shoulds” that adults say will lead to a happy life. But for many students, the end goal of all that work — college or a career — is a hazy future, not a tangible one.
The article goes on to point out two key structures that help bring purpose into focus for students – Advisories and Real World Experience. Learning in real-world internships allows students to test drive “possible futures” for themselves, and the support of their Advisor helps them to make sense of those experiences and grow in their understanding of their own talents and passions.
Cause and effect
I think the other reason for the “hazy future” problem is that our traditional schools, to the degree they address developing purpose, get the sequence backwards. From another great piece, How to Help Teens Find Purpose:
“Young people do not usually develop a specific purpose and then go become an expert in that thing. Rather, they are exposed to something new that helps them develop their own sense of purpose. In short, in most cases experiences lead to developing purpose, not the other way around.”
Most people (4 out of 5 according to the Stanford Center on Adolescence) don’t have a clear vision of where they want to go, what they want to accomplish in life, and why. And that’s OK. But what’s not okay is telling 80% of young people to mimic those 20%: just pick something you think you can be passionate about, then go to college and study that thing, then get a job and make a career out of it. (I’m not sure that works for the 20% all that well either.) We need to give kids a different roadmap:
“Most people do not have that one thing they are passionate about—that singular motivator that drives all of their life decisions and infuses every waking moment with a sense of purpose and meaning. (If you’ve found that studying the mating habits and evolution of mollusks from the Cambrian period until the present day is your purpose for living—we salute you. Charles Darwin spent thirty-nine years studying earthworms; we salute Charles Darwin.) …[But] most people are passionate about many different things, and the only way to know what they want to do is to prototype some potential lives, try them out, and see what really resonates with them. Once you know how to prototype your way forward, you are on the path to discovering the things you truly love.”
Our school model provides for that prototyping, and starts young people on their life’s journey so that graduation is just another step, not the end of the road.
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