During one of our first in-service days in August, we completed an exercise in which we discussed the Portrait of our Ideal Graduate. It’s a way of examining how our mission should manifest itself in the lives of our alumni. A few days later, we enjoyed wonderful, probing discussions about adulthood prompted by our summer read, Dan Heischman’s Good Influence. We talked about what adulthood means, the adults who have mattered to us and how this all ties to our being meaningful educators.
Not surprisingly, a great deal of overlap occurred during the two sessions. It seems to me that in drafting our ideal graduate, we also are articulating what sort of adults we wish to be. The reason lies in our fervent desire to give each student what he or she craves. We want to be not just a good influence, but the best possible influence.
The lists of qualities in each exercise were long. I’ve been pondering those lists and wondering just what young people look for in adults. At the risk of oversimplifying, it’s wisdom. I define this as having a deeper sense of life’s questions and even embracing their inherent mystery. People with it seem to grasp something most of us struggle even to touch. But we keep reaching for it. This notion is captured well in a five-minute video on The Wisdom Book.
How do you define wisdom? More important, how do you help young people gain it?