Lysa, Co-Principal, CA
Schools can help people learn good communication skills and to work in groups and get along with other people who are different than them. That's just a fact of life - something you have to do as a human - so I think schools can help with those things... Although I don't know that they always do.
Lysa is Co-Principal of an Alternative High School in California. She was interviewed by a student as part of a #schoolpartnership project with REENVISIONED, in which students interview each other and adults in their lives, and reflect together on school and what makes a good life.
Take a moment and think about a child you care about and, when you're ready, tell me about that child.
Can it be my own child? I have so many to pick from this is going to be a little bit difficult so I’m doing my own child. My daughter is really independent now - she's almost twenty and I think she is doing a good job starting out as an adult. She has a really curious mind and is very creative and I think she's actually really caring and a good friend - although she doesn't always have a lot of friends because she can also be kind of judgmental.
Imagine if she is in her thirties what do you hope for her for her life? What would make it a good life?
I hope she learns how to manage the stress and overwhelmingness that sometimes happens when you're an adult. Maybe it happens when you’re younger too - just all the responsibilities that you have - I hope she learns how to manage. I hope that she finds something to do for work that is satisfying and makes her happy. I also hope she can afford to live - like survive - without it being a big struggle. And I hope that she is active in the community and in the world - not just only in focused on herself, which I don’t think she’ll do.
Is there anything that you are scared or worried will get in the way
Well, I think it's gonna be really hard to live in California because it's super expensive, so I think things could get in the way of her being able to live here - practical things - so I hope that she can find a place to be that I also might want to live because I don't want us to be super far apart. I mean a little bit apart would be fine, but my parents are from the other side of the country and that is really hard. I'm also a little bit scared because of the state of the planet - just how bad things are with the environment and that we have a crazy president in my opinion, and that people, not just the president, are willing to start wars and do things that could really be dangerous for us.
What role do you think schools should play in achieving this good life?
I think schools need to help young people learn how to think. I don't know that all the skills that we are always trying to jam down you guys’ throats are really as important as being able to know how to take in information and judge if it's true or not and be able to connect it to other things you know. To be able to use it, not just memorize it. So I think schools can help with that. I also think they can help people learn good communication skills and to work in groups and get along with other people who are different than them. That's just a fact of life - something you have to do as a human - so I think schools can help with those things. Although I don't know that they always do.
Do you think schools have played this role for your daughter?
Well I think my daughter was super lucky because she went to Monarch School, which definitely tries to be more group-oriented and talk about what's happening and how it relates to feelings. Then she went to different high schools. I would say high school is a big fail in terms of those things overall. Then she went to Cabrio where I think some of those things happened, and she also worked downtown as a teen volunteer and intern. I think working there really helped her feel like part of the community and being in a group. So that wasn't school, but it was a community thing.
Do you think people agree with your ideas?
No I think a lot of people think you should go to school memorize a lot of information and take tests and that that will show whether you're going to be a functional adult. I think that's wrong, but many people seem to believe it.
If you can remember, tell me about your favorite teacher that you ever had in school.
I’m feeling old and like my memory isn't working well today. Okay, I had a high school teacher named Peter. I went to an alternative high school and we had a class that was called communications. There are things I learned in that class that I still think about now – that still help me in getting along with other people, and also taking care of my own personal feelings in business whenever problems come up. So I think that's pretty significant. I probably had the class for, what, like ten weeks or something and I still remember some of the things that we did. One of things we did was journal writing and I had never written a journal really before that it definitely started a pattern where I use that sometimes to help me get my thoughts together and deal with my feelings. I didn’t journal my whole life everyday, but it was a concrete tool that I use. I think I was a junior and there are some other things that he just said that were super valuable and I still remember. I wish I could get in touch with him again but that school doesn't even exist anymore.
Is there anything else you want to say about schooling that you haven't said already
I think the way we do it is really old fashioned and out of date and that's why often students find it irrelevant and boring. If we did it really differently, and maybe listened to what you guys want more, it might work better and be more fun. Fun is a good thing - slow learning and having learning be fun is positive. Somehow it seems like people want it to be torture and not fun - I don't think life is too short for that.
10,000 Stories. One Shared Vision.
REENVISIONED is a national movement to redefine the purpose of school. We believe schools should foster flourishing individuals and a thriving democratic society. But what does it mean to thrive or flourish?
To answer this, we're building the world's largest collection of stories about what it means to live good lives and the role schools should play in helping create them: 10,000 stories from people across the country. We'll use the stories to learn about our shared values and dreams and to create a new vision for why we send our children to school.
We work with people like YOU across the country: Catalysts - individuals, classrooms, schools, and community organizations - who interview people in their communities and foster empathy nationwide by sharing the stories on our website and social media: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook (@reenvisioned).