Ethan, High School Student, CA
"Going back to the idea of tailoring education: different people have different motivations. There’s no one-size-fits-all education method that maximize every person’s potential. Thats why its important for administrators to design school towards this goal and it's important for teachers to recognize such differences and tailor their curriculum."
Ethan is a student at Palo Alto High School (Paly). He was interviewed by a peer and one of our student Catalysts--Anthony--for the RE-ENVISIONED collective visioning project at Paly in Spring 2017. Check out other #SchoolSpotlight interviews for Paly by following #PeopleofPaly.
Tell me about yourself. How would your friends describe you? How would your family describe you?
My friends would describe me as generally serious, but also playful. I think both my friends and family would describe me as hardworking and responsible for the most part.
Imagine you are all grown up. Let’s say you’re 30! Take three post-its and draw or write on them three central things think would make it a good or successful life?
I've lived a comfortable childhood and my parents have lived pretty comfortably. I think being able to work hard enough to make it to where my parents are right now would be ideal. I would be working really harder at 30, probably harder than my parents would imagine. Hopefully I would be enjoying my job.
What would you like school to do, ideally, to help you get to that good life?
I think it’s important for school to be tailored to the individual. I can’t answer for everyone but what works for me is hardcore academics such as learning math from lecture/textbook and hands on activity such as being part of a publication. I think it’s important to have a knowledge of fundamentals and have opportunity to work around the fundamentals with real impact in the world.
Do you think this school will do that for you? Why or why not?
I'm a senior and I will say that it has done that for the most part. Our core classes do a good job of equipping us with various important knowledge; math & science. But also offers a lot of interesting elective that allow us to pursue further interests.
Will your school play that role for all students in the school? If not, why not?
I hope it does, I think that it certainly make the attempt to do so and obviously it’s not perfect and some people will have complaints and how it's not their preferred their style of learning.
What do you think is the most important thing you’re learning in school?
Work hard, diligence. I think that Paly’s workload is pretty heavy and the classes are generally quite rigorous. I think that’s important because in life there will be a lot of challenges and it won't be easy. Paly prepares you for challenges in life, so you can come out on top.
When you think about the kind of world or society you want to live in when you’re grown up, what would make it a good/ideal world or society?
What would make an ideal world is one which where people aren’t selfish, but also where they are motivated. I think that people can have different motivation for different things. I think it would ultimately be beneficial to the entire society not just oneself. There’s a lot of that today but I hope for more in the future.
Given your answer, what role do you think schools should play in creating that ideal society?
Schools should ultimately educate people to become people who are selfless yet motivated towards their goals. Going back to the idea of tailoring education: different people have different motivations. There’s no one-size-fits-all education method that maximize every person’s potential. Thats why its important for administrators to design school towards this goal and it's important for teachers to recognize such differences and tailor their curriculum.
Who has been your favorite teacher until now? Why?
My favorite teacher has been Ms. Park. She’s an English teacher who taught me in 9th grade, and a Humanities elective in 11th grade. Humanities deals with topics such as philosophy, ethics, beauty, and religion. She’s a really great teacher because she encouraged discussion and she's always open to new ideas and she's always taking the discussion further.
Can you tell be about a time when you learned something and it felt really good and empowering – like you just wanted to keep learning more? This doesn’t have to be in school – it could be outside of school or after you finished.
I get really into research when I am preparing for debate tournaments. We are given topics at the start of every 2 months and for us to be able to debate from other schools; we have to do a bunch of research to come up with the best arguments and evidence. At times it can be dry and difficult to get started. At other times, once you get started, it gets very interesting and it’s exciting to see how much you can find on controversial issues. Some examples have been nuclear power, free speech, and adolescent health care, among other intriguing topics.