Have you ever seen a baby wearing a shirt that proclaims, “I am going to change the world”? We advise our kids from birth that they can be anything they want to be, but now we add the pressure of having them announce this to the world, courtesy of GAP. When those babies become teenagers, the pressure becomes more intense as they are given an ever-growing list of the things they must do to get into a great college and get a good job in order to change the world. Earn good grades, join a bunch of clubs, play sports and get a scholarship, serve the community and while you are at it, be kind, positive, responsible, and hopeful.
This year, we asked them to do all these things amid an unprecedented global pandemic where every piece of advice that we gave was essentially compromised. Change, adapt, learn. Learning to not just survive, but to thrive. It’s no longer about doing school, going to school, getting good grades in school. It is about learning and identifying the practical application of all we learn each day.
This past year we learned that Distance Learning has many flaws. The phrase itself is an oxymoron since we know for sure that learning is an interactive event. As we reflect on the past year we cannot help but realize that to be successful, care for each other and change the world, we need to impose on our teenagers that learning matters, understanding matters, speaking clearly matters, choosing the right words matter, listening matters and relationships are everything,
Learning and innovation were our focuses at Seabury Hall 2020-2021. We know that our students were fortunate to engage in face-to-face person learning all year. That has made all the difference because they were able to conduct conversations about real-life challenges amid a global pandemic, racial injustice, global warming, and the need for understandable medical information to keep each other safe and together. But more importantly, how to engage in a world and navigate through a changing landscape of challenges of what they can do as opposed to what they cannot do. They worked together to find ways to stay safe while doing not all but most of the things they enjoy. That was our focus.
Sometimes it is said that people forget everything they learned in middle and high school. Not this year. Their learning today and in the life lessons of the future must be rooted in so much of this year’s experience. Encourage today’s teenagers to learn beyond school so that they will focus upon learning deeply so that they truly can communicate their understanding and like the baby’s tee-shirt says, they can change the world.
Image Credit: Seabury Hall