by Bernie Noe, head of school
One hundred years ago this month Lakeside School opened its doors in the Denny Blaine area of Seattle, on the shore of Lake Washington. There were 13 boys and two girls in the first class (the founder’s daughter and her female companion attended for only the first few years), in what would be an all-boys school until 1971. The mission of the school since its inception has been to offer its students an education that is academically rigorous and grounded in the notion that our students will live ethical lives, being considerate of all others and contributing positively to society.
This remains a core part of our mission in 2019.
In our first century we have graduated civic leaders, humanitarians, innovators, scholars, philanthropists, and leaders in virtually all professions. Our alumni have served the world, making it a better place for others, not just for themselves. They have worked to eradicate disease, save wildlife, protect the environment, lead this state and this city, start a multitude of businesses that pay a living wage, and be good parents and guardians and good citizens. This city, this state, this country, and the world are better for the work done by our alumni.
As we head into the school’s second century, we are in the process of re-envisioning a Lakeside School education, asking ourselves what our students will need to know to thrive both personally and professionally in the world of 2050 and beyond. How will we change the school to make this education possible? And what role will parents and guardians play in educating their students for the world of the future?
Thus far, this is what we suspect to be true of students who will thrive in the future:
- They will be open-minded, resilient, and flexible. They will understand that they need to be lifelong learners who are always honing their skills, enhancing their domain knowledge, and looking ahead toward the coming changes.
- They will understand that failure is a part of the learning process, and be undaunted about setbacks, even major ones. They will have the confidence to persist until they overcome obstacles and the wisdom to know when they are not going to overcome them.
- They will know what really matters to them, as compared to what sort of matters, or does not matter at all. They will develop the practice of being reflective about their lives, understanding that without reflection they have no hope of knowing what is truly important to them.
- They will know what to do when they don’t know what to do.
- They will embrace change with joy and a sense of adventure.
How do you, parents and guardians, help your students develop these skills? Well, it is simple in concept and challenging in execution. You will need to:
- Encourage a growth mindset. See Carol Dweck’s work on this. Do not talk about grades, but rather effort and persistence.
- Make sure your students have the time to be reflective and understand the importance of doing so.
- Let them fail when they fail, and then let them pick themselves up and keep going. You can encourage them and point out when they might be headed toward failure, but do not pick up the pieces for them. No one is going to do that for them in the future.
- Let them decide what really matters to them. Help them with this, as it is a complicated process. You already know what matters to you, but their ideas are evolving. Don’t expect what matters to you will also matter to them. To be clear, I am not talking about ethics here. By all means, make clear what you expect in terms of ethical behavior. We will do the same at school. But course selection, co-curriculars, hobbies, careers, college, etc.: let them decide.
You will hear much more about our re-envisioning work this fall (including in this just-published article about why now is the time to re-envision our program) so I thought I would get you all started on thinking about your role in the process. There will be much more to come.
Our goal in the re-envisioning is to do what Lakeside has done so well for 100 years: prepare our students to live joyful lives of meaning and service in the world they find when they graduate.
Enjoy the fall, everyone. I will see you at games, performances, and at back-to-school nights!
Bernie Noe is Lakeside's head of school. You can reach him at Head'sOffice@lakesideschool.org and 206-440-2714.