For more than fifty years, the Living Wisdom Schools have pioneered a radical new approach to educating young children — an approach that empowers them to be happy while they excel in school and life.
In education today, there’s a quiet but powerful groundswell — a grassroots rebellion against the government-mandated “No Child Left Behind” and Core Curriculum initiatives that have hamstrung teachers, alienated students, and distorted the purpose of education by preventing children from receiving the best possible experience of school.
The Education for Life philosophy can be simply stated:
At school, the factor that most assuredly
promotes deep, engaged, lasting learning
Parents are often dumbfounded when they hear the Living Wisdom School teachers proclaim that a happy, arts-enriched, highly individualized curriculum promotes more efficient learning than the “academically rigorous” curricula offered by other schools.
They are nonplussed by the suggestion that the LWS curriculum gives children a deeper education because the teachers are encouraged to teach principles and review content with each student until they have a firm grasp on concepts before moving on, instead of skimming the surface of the subject matter in an ill-considered rush to demonstrate good test scores.
Young people who are subjected to a one-sided, academically overloaded curriculum are at risk not only of receiving a superficial education; they end up mentally and emotionally less well-prepared to succeed in high school and beyond. Perhaps most troubling, they are less likely to acquire important personal qualities that are defining among successful people.
One prospective parent, during a visit to LWS, protested, “But these kids can’t be learning — they’re too happy!”
Yet groundbreaking research has confirmed beyond any possibility of doubt that happiness and school success are intimately connected.
What are some of the qualities that we, as parents and teachers, should encourage in our children to prepare them for success in high school, college, and life?
Aside from the knowledge and skills required to succeed in a profession, surely it’s fair to suggest that there also needs to be a deep wanting to do worthwhile and wonderful things.
There has to be a confidence, self-knowledge, positive expectations, and an ability to work well with others — all qualities that must be deliberately nurtured. They cannot be imposed from without, nor will they magically appear as a side-effect of good grades and test scores.
These personal qualities, which are highly predictive of career success, cannot be nurtured by only trying to motivate kids to get good grades. Any motivation that grades and test scores provide will be superficial and will fail to touch their hearts. Worse, it may encourage a dependence on external recognition that can never be fully satisfied. After one test, there will always be another.
As will become clear in the chapters that follow, success and happiness come most reliably to those who are focused enthusiastically on the process — who are not postponing their happiness until some vaguely imagined future, but are able to rejoice in the expansion of their powers today.