That night my wife, JoNell, and I reflected on the variety of educational experiences Sam has had: Spanish preschool in Guatemala, suburban elementary school in Michigan, an inner city gifted & talented public school in Houston. Then in 1999 we moved to Ankara were we struggled every year to find the right solution: homeschooling, Turkish private school, private tutors, and two different international schools. It was a miracle that Sam was able to complete the last two years of high school in one place: a new private international school with some truly exceptional teachers (thanks especially to Ms La Mertha & Mr Lawrence!).
I sometimes use this website to draw attention to the frequent disconnect of formal, institutionalized education from actual learning (see my quotes category to get an idea). We have in large part forgotten why modern schools were created and have accepted them as a given, as the only way to prepare individuals for productive life in modern society. I am not saying here that we should abolish schools, but I am saying that we should remember the reasons for the archaic design of schools as we know them today, and that we should seriously consider a new design for schools -and teaching- that is relevant for our students' fast approaching future.
Sam's experience so far with a wide variety of schools, teachers, and approaches to education and learning, brought him to a similar conclusion while still a student in high school. We've had many debates in recent years about the merits (or lack thereof) of diplomas, grades, standard curricula and teacher-focused instruction. Now that he's through, I can stop hiding my books by Illich and Freire and we can continue the conversation more amicably. I should also mention that, after such an education (in many, many senses of that word), we support Sam's decision to work for a year to clear his head before starting university.
Congratulations, Sam, for not only surviving intact such a gauntlet of educational institutions, but also for passing into a new stage of your life with the ability to learn and think critically, show compassion and respect, resist injustice, and make a positive impact on those around you.