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Wednesday, February 28, 2018
The Real Value in a Holistic Education
A quick google search for the words "college admission" this week will likely turn up dozens of stories about the same topic: colleges promising not to punish students who are disciplined for activism. I wrote about it here less than a week ago. And from this mobilization, another important story emerges: one about the ways in which educational environment helped to motivate many of the most articulate and vocal of these student protestors.
In an article for Slate, Dahlia Lithwick poignantly observes that part of the reason that students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have been so successful in raising awareness over the past few weeks, is that their school continues to invest in so-called soft subjects like debate, theater, and journalism. In an era where many teachers are buying their own pencils and hand sanitizer, this high school in an affluent pocket of Parkland, Florida, is cultivating students whose social awareness and poise is not secondary to their academic achievements.
This tragedy has shone a light on the real value of teaching students about civic engagement. It struck me that these Parkland students, through their anger and grief, are displaying precisely the type of poise and independence that colleges are looking for. Not because they now have a traumatic story, but because they have taken incredibly adult actions in order to attack an incredibly adult societal epidemic.
There is no silver lining to what has happened. These students, however, are a testament to many things, not the least of which is the importance of well-rounded education, and an ability to see outside of themselves. They have lifted the veil on who they are, what they will stand for, and what they will not. It is this-not grades, not varsity sports, not volunteer tourism-that will show a college their true potential.
Lithwick's title is a gut-punch: "They Were Trained for This"—but also an important read.
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