Dave ("Paco"), TV Producer, NYC

Paco is a producer of reality television and lives in Brooklyn, NY with his fiancé, Lilach.  Together, they were interviewed by their friend Erin. These were Paco’s responses.

I think more than success I actually mean happiness.  I think part of school is to make yourself a more developed and well-rounded person that’s aware of yourself and others.  Part of the reason to do that is to be happy and to understand yourself and your role in the world. 

I think more than success I actually mean happiness.  I think part of school is to make yourself a more developed and well-rounded person that’s aware of yourself and others.  Part of the reason to do that is to be happy and to understand yourself and your role in the world. 

 

Think about a kid in your life who you care about a lot – 1) describe that kid, and 2) tell me what you want for them for their life.

Without kids of my own yet, I’ve got admit I hadn’t really thought of this before!  If I had to focus on one though, it’d be my nephew, Cooper.  He’s just about year and a half old now and it’s almost hard to describe him because, well… he’s so new to the world and still becoming whoever he will be. One thing is certain - he’s absolutely adorable and lights up a room.  Cooper’s got a laugh that is so full of positive energy that it feels like it could cure cancer or something.  It’s really sweet to hear and I think I find it sweet to see how, already as a barely walking kid, he can make people around him so happy.  It even works when people aren’t right there. I saw him at my brother’s last Saturday and when Cooper saw my dad on Facetime he hugged the phone, putting a smile on faces at both ends of the call.

Cooper is so young now that he hasn’t really seen, or at least comprehended, anything bad in the world, and I would hope that was still the case even when he was 30. But of course, he’s going to see bad things in the world…perhaps a lot of bad things…so, I hope he learns from it all and doesn’t let anything bad become an obstacle in his life for too long.  But learning how to do that is growing up. For now, he’s a kid and as a kid the hardest part of the day should simply be coloring between the lines.  And if you’re lucky, someone should also tell that you don’t even have to color between the lines. Color as you wish.

 

When you think about him grown up – what makes a good life?

I think a lot of that is up to him.  He has a very good life now – he has parents and family who loves him.  Right now he doesn’t have a care in the world.  I wish it would continue, though that’s not realistic, so I hope he overcomes whatever challenges are in his way.  It’s too soon to know if he wants to never leave the Upper East Side or if he’ll want to live in Tanzania for the next 45 years.  I can’t know too much about him yet.  He likes trucks now J , but I don’t think that necessarily means he’ll go into trucking.

Was that the right answer?

There’s no right answer!

 

When you think about what you want for him, what is the role of school in getting him there?

That’s a big question.  I can’t help but relate it to my own schooling when you ask this question. I went to public school and I’m a big fan of public schools.  It provides a structure, not just for the content of the educational material but also for the social aspect of life.  Going to public school in New York, I was accustomed to kids of all shapes and sizes.  My dad told me a story recently about my mom tearing up with happiness when I was in the 6th grade and telling her all about my new teacher, Mrs. Stevenson. I told my mom all the things I liked about her and went into a detailed description of who she was. When my mom finally met Mrs. Stevenson at a parent- teacher conference, she said to my dad “he never even mentioned she was black!?” She was proud that I didn’t see a different skin color than mine as something ‘other’. I think about that often and how school itself is a way to show kids how, “this is how society is, or could be” without any judgment – allowing people to simply interact with others without biases.  I can remember there was a kid from Bosnia at my school, there was a kid who lived with his grandmother because his parents were gone, and there were some kids on food stamps.  If I had gone to a private school, I’m not sure I would have had that opportunity to interact with such different kids. 

The friendships you form are a big part of school.  School forms your social network, which is like after-hours education.  After school I went to play with this friend or that friend.  And then I saw, oh, that kid doesn’t have a dad – that’s what that looks like.  Or, oh, that kid lives with his uncle – that’s what that kind of family looks like. It’s how you learn about the world and learn how to be a friend.

None of that speaks to “book education”, per se, but it is part of the holistic, forming experience of schools.  I’m sure you could get it at a charter school or another kind of school, though probably not from homeschool.

 

But you feel it plays an important role?

I think it could.  I don’t think it’s the only way.  I’m sure some people would argue that they don’t need that structure to get that kind of experience.

 

What about what you think is ideal?

The friendships you form are a big part of school.  School forms your social network, which is like after-hours education.  After school I went to play with this friend or that friend.  And then I saw, oh, that kid doesn’t have a dad – that’s what that looks like.  Or, oh, that kid lives with his uncle – that’s what that kind of family looks like. It’s how you learn about the world and learn how to be a friend.

The friendships you form are a big part of school.  School forms your social network, which is like after-hours education.  After school I went to play with this friend or that friend.  And then I saw, oh, that kid doesn’t have a dad – that’s what that looks like.  Or, oh, that kid lives with his uncle – that’s what that kind of family looks like. It’s how you learn about the world and learn how to be a friend.

I don’t know what the ideal is!  I know what I enjoyed and didn’t enjoy.  But I’m not sure I know what the ideal is.  It’s almost weird to ask what the ideal is – I’m not sure I believe it’s a parameter that needs to be set.

I’m a fan of public schools – I think it’s good that society pays for it and considers it a basic right.  You have fire stations, roads, and schools.  But I also want a school system that works.  And around here it’s not always a recipe for success – but at least it’s an opportunity for it.

 

Do you think school will play the role it should for/ for all kids?

I think for the most part it will for Cooper, yeah.

For all kids?

No, not for all kids. I don’t think it’s currently working for all kids.  There are huge gaps and pitfalls and some kids are going to really bad schools.  Also, some kids can’t go to school because they have to take care of their own family.  It seems like school is a luxury for some kids – it’s unfortunate but I get that.   It’s not an acceptable status quo but it’s a reality we’re in and will continue to be a reality.  I know these are home and structural issues, not school issues, but a deficiency in another area may mean someone can’t use school, for better or for worse.

 

Do you think other people agree with you?

I would imagine most people agree.  I think some people will definitely agree.  I don’t think anything I’ve said will make people scratch their heads and be bewildered.  I definitely think some people don’t look at the whole system as much – they just assume that’s what you do: “Oh, you grew up in this town, so you go to this elementary school, which means you go to that middle and high school and that community college”.  Or, maybe you go to college but you don’t go far – sometimes horizons aren’t broadened.  But the truth is that sometimes going to the prestigious Ivy League isn’t a recipe for success.

 

What do you mean by success there?

I think more than success I actually mean happiness.  I think part of school is to make yourself a more developed and well-rounded person that’s aware of yourself and others.  Part of the reason to do that is to be happy and to understand yourself and your role in the world.  There are people here who live close to PS29, one of the best schools in NYC.  People move to the neighborhood to go to the school, but really your kid can still be a total dipshit and go to PS29.  And maybe you will go there and then you still can’t get into the “right” middle school or high school.  It’s not like success is solely found on a linear track where everything is perfect so long as you get on board early enough.

 

Do you think they share your sense of success?

I’m sure some do.  I also think everything changes when you have kids, which I don’t yet. I Imagine your whole life perspective changes.  As much as you can think something theoretically, once you have kids it all changes.  And then there are different ideas of success.  So some parents I bet would say that just getting your kids to school will be success, and others will be say they have to win the science fair, and others will say it’s getting into the right college.  There are many perspectives on what success is, in school and beyond.

 

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