I’m reading more lately about the increasing challenges, even struggles, young people are encountering in making successful transitions to the working world after high school and college. Often the trouble can be traced to a lack of preparation in “soft” skills like nonlinear problem-solving, adaptability to rapid change, and the ability to collaborate and communicate effectively.
For parents who are now making decisions about the schools their children will attend, those educational choices are not unlike placing bets on their children’s future. Smart bettors employ careful deliberation of the many factors that can tilt the odds in their favor.
Consideration 1: Without a doubt, independent schools offer students the best chance of beating those odds and preparing to become not only lifelong learners, but also capable and effective problem-solvers and leaders. Unfortunately many of these schools have done a poor job of countering the public’s misperception that an independent school education is financially out of reach. It isn’t. Like Darrow, many of these schools make it their mission to serve a socioeconomically diverse student body, including people from all backgrounds. Our success stories are filled with testimonials from accomplished alumni who say they never could have imagined attending an independent school.
Consideration 2: This is not to imply that other educational options—such as charter, magnet and public schools—are not valid choices. I attended public schools through 12th grade and was served well enough, despite a learning difference that went undiagnosed until college. The fact that some people will have alternatives that others do not shouldn’t preclude a careful examination of some essential questions:
- Do we want our children’s post-educational success to be rooted in the memorization and regurgitation of facts presented in a rigid framework?
- Do we want to bet on education that models working and thinking alone most of the time?
- Do we want to prize obedience, reticence, and self-consciousness as important behaviors in achieving goals?
My wife and I make sacrifices each year so that we can place a different bet. We bet on interactivity, creativity, and real-world connection as the force multipliers of education. We bet against the AP culture because we don’t see any workplace set up like an AP class. At Darrow, we bet on inspiration, engagement, problem-solving, self-motivation, and agency.
These are smart bets with highly favorable odds.