Jack completed his doctorate in mathematics education at Stanford in 2009. He also teaches methods and language courses in the Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP). He has worked as a public high school math teacher, a professional developer, and an education research associate.
Jack: We’re the parents of Joseph, who’s a student at Living Wisdom High School, and we’ve been with Living Wisdom for more than nine years. Our daughter attends the K-8 Palo Alto Living Wisdom School.
Given that my professional field is education, I spent a great deal of time trying to find the right school for Joseph. I visited and studied a wide variety of schools, I interviewed the people, and I shadowed and observed. And then I came across this jewel of a school, Living Wisdom School of Palo Alto, and I couldn’t believe it. I really could not believe that such a school existed, because I had never seen anything like it, and I had never personally encountered a school like this in all my years in education.
We enrolled Joseph at LWS with Kshama as his first-grade teacher, and it was fantastic. I couldn’t believe that I could leave my child, the most precious thing in my life, leave him there and feel totally confident that he would be loved, supported, and that he was going to grow and be nurtured. I’ve had that feeling all the way through, including his time at Living Wisdom High School, where I know that I’m leaving him in good hands and that he’s not only going to be challenged with a rigorous curriculum, but he’s also going to add meaning to his life.
Public schools do their best, but as a parent who taught math in public high school I know that they are large systems, and that the learning is very often first and foremost about how to obey rules, how to follow, how to be passive, and how to do the homework that’s handed to you. The poor students do the best they can, but there is no sense of agency or active learning or finding their place in the world, or finding meaning in what they’re doing. Adolescence in particular is such a difficult time, and those are exactly the kinds of questions they should be asking.
Living Wisdom offers a unique program that I wish all students everywhere could benefit from, because they are giving the individual student a chance to understand who they are in relation to their world, and not just be sort of college-ready.
That’s a big term now, “college-ready,” but many students, including those who go on to college, and even those who get good college grades, don’t know why they are there, and they don’t know the horizon that they’re moving toward, because they’re just following the rules.
I’m very happy to say that our experience of Living Wisdom High School has been the opposite — that we are not raising a passive rule-follower, but somebody who is trying to understand his place in the world, his purpose in the world, and who is very actively contributing to that purpose.