Carolyn, Consultant, D.C.
Imagine your child (or one you care about deeply) is now in their 30s – out of school and starting into adult life. What do you hope for them about their life? What would make it a ‘good’ life?
I think having the opportunity and option for jobs. But what’s interesting, what it’s kind of turned into is that positions have become so focused on having certain degrees and qualifications… so I think that’s a pretty big limitation that a lot of people are encountering.
What role do you think schooling should play in achieving that ideal good life?
I think school should definitely give someone the right skills to be able to function as an adult. Teach them the right sciences, the technical means they need to accomplish whatever they’re interested in. But I think there’s also—there’s another way to view school as treating the person as a whole. I think some schools do a really good job of this. Like Notre Dame [my alma mater]—we had all these classes, and extracurricular activities sponsored by the school that round a person out in different social an educational aspects. As a child and a student, your school is basically your everything. That’s your playground of life. That’s where you spend almost all your time. It would be beneficial for schools to really help students in that way.
As you get older in the higher grades, schools become more career-focused in helping kids find positions, help students position themselves in the right ways to be viewed as good candidates for different careers. I want that, but at the same time I wish there wasn’t such an emphasis on creating such a perfect application. There’s so much stress to get the perfect job or an MD. You want schools to be supportive and help those who want and need help, but you also don’t want the pressure.
Do you think schools are currently playing that role/doing what they should (for you/your child and for everyone)?
I am biased by the schools I went to. It’s hard to say because schools are so different. So I think yes and no. There are some schools that really go out there and it’s their goal to help students out with everything, Like Montessori schools and smaller private schools—they all have their mission and creed and you do get to accomplish some of those things. But then if you think about public education, I think it has some aspects of that—there’s definitely support for students if you think of counseling and health/wellness and career counseling. They all supposedly have them, but I think it’s really—I guess the level of effort and the quality of the systems and care is different
At my high school, our tagline was “women of faith, vision of purpose.” We’d always tease each other about it, but it’s something you’d always go back to and have—it’s like having your own little cheer that you rally around. And when I think of public schools I just don’t really see something like that. I guess the culture is based on something different. It’s kind of every man for himself. You have your cliques and your clubs.
Do you think others agree with you about what a good life is?
Probably not. There are so many different lifestyles. I feel like at the base level, I would assume people would agree on some sort of financial comfort level. Maybe not comfort—some people have to and can survive on minimal financial gain. But probably not. There are definitely people who wouldn’t want to work or would work different positions.
I suggested it’s about having work and people you like working with and having a family life and a work-life balance. But there are other people who would rather not have a family or work 24/7 and would be perfectly happy.