When Safety is Dangerous…

If you were to ask a set of parents why they chose one school over another (in this valley or beyond), the lists of rational reasons would probably start flying. One school is better at this thing that is important, the academics are better, the math program, etc etc. However, I don’t think this to be true in most instances. I am more inclined to believe Seth Godin, who says: No one is here for the product. They are here for the story and the way believing it makes them feel. We are driven by deep underlying emotions that guide our behavior much more than any list of reasons we may categorize after-the-fact.

There are a few emotions that I think drive a lot of educational decisions (and probably much more than just educational ones): Safety; Prestige; Social Currency; Achievement. When I hear parents telling me why they send their kid to this school or that, I can often hear through their words down to one of these (and there may be others) driving forces. These are the things I am trying to pay more attention to.

Some people don’t consider The Sage School because they feel it might not be the ‘safest’ choice. They don’t doubt the safety of their children here, rather that our approach is different than their own education, and they fear that might hold their children back. However, that ‘safety’ comes at profound costs that we, often, willingly overlook. Our kids may be disengaged- they may learn to cheat the system- they may be slowly learning to hate learning or to let their curiosity die- they may be carrying some level of depression or anxiety. Or they could be doing well by all traditional measures- but they are following a prescribed path that doesn’t help them unfurl their best selves. They may actually sell some of their potential futures away for the safety and security of that ‘A’. They may not be developing a rich enough skill set to face the challenges of their lives and of the future. And yet, we let that ride in the name of safety.

At Sage, we believe that education needs to change. We believe we can do better by our kids. We believe that kids can know better- know themselves better, know their environment better, and know their community better. But, we have to be willing to take that risk, that leap. At a parent meeting last night, a parent of a senior, who has been with us since 6th grade, recently came to the realization that she couldn’t possibly have envisioned the entire growth path her child has engaged in. As a family, they are thrilled that they made the leap and feel incredibly lucky to be part of the school. We’re here because of the story behind it and the way believing it makes us feel. Yes, Seth Godin, you are right. And we should look for bigger, bolder feelings to be pursuing with our kids. Be Bold. Take the Leap. Know Better. Your child’s future depends on it…

-Chris McAvoy