My two children have attended Living Wisdom School for the last seven years. Before we discovered LWS, they were enrolled in four separate schools, and while each school had its merits, we never felt that they were completely right for us.
The richness of the LWS Education for Life (EFL) philosophy arises from a deep, consistent valuing of the unique and special qualities of each child’s mind, heart, hands, and soul.
As an education researcher, I’ve studied human development and learning from a cognitive and social perspective, absent the key dimension of the soul (in the most expansive sense of the term). When I first became acquainted with LWS, I felt that my academic background would surely prepare me to understand Education for Life. I dutifully read the Education for Life book and tried to assimilate its ideas into my own thinking and the frameworks that I had studied in graduate school.
But there were problems with that approach. EFL is so much more than an abstract system that I could absorb and intellectualize with my rational mind. I read the book several times and could scarcely decipher its meaning, thanks to the theoretical prejudices that my education and experience had fostered.
But as the years passed, and I began to understand EFL in greater depth, I realized that it can only be truly studied and evaluated in the living arena of the child’s daily experiences in the classroom and playground.
I watched with wonder as both of my children began to thrive under this approach, and I was thrilled to see how their growth was positively reflected in key moments of our journey as a family.
I’ve been deeply impressed by the many ways our children’s consciousness and learning have expanded through their participation in the yearly all-school Theater Magic play, the literary journal, the spring art show, the music concerts, and the various culturally inclusive celebrations and field trips across the school year.
Whenever my son has experienced obstacles in his academic subjects, his teachers have had the freedom and flexibility to give him all the help he needed, and to adapt the curriculum and the teaching approach to meet his unique needs.
Throughout my years of observing the LWS teachers, I’ve been gratified to see how much energy they bring to noticing and valuing the gifts that each child brings.
An LWS teacher told me that my son always played a key role in initiating and sustaining deep class discussions about the subject matter, and that he offered stimulating perspectives that advanced learning for everyone – and this was in fourth grade!
It was typical of the feedback I receive in parent-teacher conferences, and on report cards (which are ungraded, because the richness of the students’ learning at LWS cannot be reduced to a simple percentage or letter grade).
My children have very different personalities, yet they have both found LWS to be a place of adventure, friendship, and safety, free from the anxieties and undue pressures associated with many other schools, especially “high-performing” schools.
My daughter has experienced tremendous acceptance and love throughout her journey at LWS. The school has fostered her identity as an artist, as a primary medium through which she expresses herself. At the end-of-year ceremony, I was so proud to watch her give her speech about the quality that the teachers had observed in her over the preceding year. I held my breath when it was her turn to celebrate her quality. But like all the LWS children, she gave her short speech with complete confidence to an audience of over 200 students, teachers, parents, and relatives. She was able to show such poise because she believed in what she was saying, and she knew that she was surrounded by a community of friends who were cheering her on.
Our experience of LWS has given me confidence that I am fulfilling my sacred duty as a parent to give my children an education of the highest possible quality; an education that will not only set them on a positive path to college and career, but will help them know that they have the power to choose happiness wherever they go. The joy and wisdom that have unfolded for my children and my family through the LWS community are boundless.
Jack Dieckmann, PhD, LWS Parent
Educational Researcher, Stanford University
Jack Dieckmann Bio:
Jack Dieckmann serves as Director of Research at youcubed at Stanford University, a nationally recognized initiative for inspiring, educating, and empowering teachers of mathematics by transforming the latest research on math learning into accessible and practical forms. Prior to joining youcubed, he was Associate Director for Curriculum at the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (SCALE), where he led the math team in performance assessment development. He received his doctorate in math education at Stanford in 2009. For the past 12 years, Jack has served as an adjunct faculty member in the Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP).