New View EDU Episode 1: The Purpose of SchoolsRead the full transcript of Episode 1 of the NAIS New View EDU podcast, in which hosts Tim Fish and Lisa Kay Solomon talk with guests Donna Orem and Michael B. Horn about the purpose and future of schools, collaborations between K-12 and higher education, and creating a culture of well-being in school communities.
Tim Fish: The past 16 months have been like no other. Educators around the world have been forced to re-imagine almost every aspect of school, from the daily schedule to assessment, to courses, to community. It's been exhausting and inspirational. And thankfully, as we look to the next academic year, it appears that the COVID 19 pandemic will not have a significant impact on daily operations in our schools in nearly the same way. At this time, everyone in our schools needs to rest, recover and reflect on the past year. We need to take care of our communities and be grateful for the tireless efforts from so many. And also, this is a time to refine our vision for the future. What have we learned from the past year? What aspects of our improvised programs do we want to keep, and what do we never, ever want to see again? What have we discovered is truly at the heart of our school communities?
Lisa Kay Solomon: Season One of New View EDU is designed for this moment.
A moment for us to learn from our past, and also be ready to ask bold questions about our future. It started when we were talking about the purpose of school, and how we're best serving our youngest learners and leaders, knowing what we know today about neuroscience, equity, society, wellness, human development, and flourishing.
How would we design or redesign school today, if we could start over? To help us think through this question, we've engaged in fascinating conversations with a group of authors, thought leaders, practitioners who bring expertise in their field and a deep passion for education and learning. In our first episode, we are overjoyed to welcome Michael Horn and Donna Orem to New View EDU.
Michael is a celebrated author and speaker in the future of education who seeks to enable all individuals to build their passions and fulfill their human potential. And Donna Orem is the President of the National Association of Independent Schools. I could not be more excited to welcome you both to this conversation. Donna, Michael, thank you for being here.
Donna Orem: Thanks for having us. We're thrilled!
Michael Horn: Yeah, thanks. Thanks. Yeah, this is a great opportunity.
Lisa Kay Solomon: Well, Michael, I want to start with you, because you recently wrote an article in Forbes exploring the purpose of schools. And I love the title: "Begin With the End in Mind: What's the Purpose of Schooling?" So I'm a designer. I always love to start with the end in mind. And I wonder if you could just talk a little bit about what you think the primary purpose of schools are now, and how might we think differently about the choices we might make in order to get closer to that purpose?
Michael Horn: Yeah. Look, I appreciate you bringing up the topic. It's obviously one that's near and dear to my heart. And I would say in the last 18 months, I've been thinking a lot about it, right, in the wake of the pandemic and a lot of the challenges that our nation has been grappling with. And what seems clear to me is that academic skills and knowledge building is obviously a critical building block for anything we do. But it can't just be that. If ultimately we're trying to build prepared citizens, prepared individuals to go out into the world and be able to contribute both civically, economically in their families and so forth. Then, from my perspective, I guess I would say that there's a few things that you need to think about which is ultimately amounts to allowing them to, as you said, you know, my life purpose help them build their passions and fulfill their potential.
But really, schools, I think-- to realize that, they need to think through at least five domains. And the ones that I listed out in the article, if I get them right were, were first and foremost content knowledge-- I still think that's a critical part, and sometimes it gets glossed over. Um, But we know that there, particularly to be an equitable place for all individuals, building background knowledge is incredibly important to allow people to do the second thing, which is build skills. Critical thinking, communication and things of that nature which, you know, no, one's just asking you in the workforce today or in our economy just to regurgitate knowledge or know a baseline amount, but really skills, being able to do useful things with them is incredibly important. And then third I put habits of success, but some people call them character skills or social emotional skills. Um, you know, but things like executive function skills. I know that's like the most important thing that I worry about for my daughters and I care about right now, you know, self-regulation, self-efficacy, growth mindset, agency.
Developing these in individuals and doing it through the academic knowledge and skills that you're building. So in projects and things like that and being explicit I think is incredibly important. I think about my own experience, hating group projects as a, as a kid. Uh, well, part of that was we didn't learn, right explicitly how to manage these projects and how to work with team members and things of that nature. But if you do it intentionally, I think it can be tremendous, not just for the experience itself, but also for what it will result. And then the last two that I had was you know, exposing people to the real world and developing social capital that you can use to, to help them get ahead.
So we're not just thinking about academics, but opportunity. Uh, and then fifth and, and not last in my mind is, it's really sort of a pyramid, is health and wellness. And, and obviously that came home very strongly, right, over the last many months of the pandemic, just the, the toll on physical health, but also social and emotional health.
Tim Fish: Michael, thank you for those comments. You know, it makes me think, Donna, about several conversations that you and I have had over the last several months about this idea of continuing the evolution of how we think about what school is for, and kind of what's at the center. And in those conversations, you and I have often talked about wellness, as Michael said. I loved your notion, Michael, that it's a pyramid, really, that's, that's built on a foundation of health and well-being. Donna, I wonder if you want to speak to that notion of how you have been working with school leaders and thinking about how wellness is evolving as such an important element of school.
Donna Orem: Absolutely, but I think I'm going to take a step back first. I went back a few years ago and found sort of the historical purpose of education which is to bring people to as full a realization as possible of what it is to be human. Isn't that just the greatest purpose to think about? Um, because can you imagine when we start to explore that, what does it mean to be human today?
Just imagine if we could start to unlock human potential in new ways. And certainly this gets into wellbeing, because I think, you know, one of the things that research around the brain and what drives stress and anxiety has led us to understand the central role that wellbeing plays in learning outcomes.
And, you know, I think for so many years this took a backseat. You know, it was nice to have. But I think we were so much more focused on academic rigor, and they certainly are not mutually exclusive. In fact, one builds on the other. As we look at the trends that are unfolding really before COVID and after COVID pre COVID we were seeing just rising stress, anxiety, self-harm levels in students. Sadly, we were seeing some numbers that were really off the charts for suicides, particularly among middle school girls. And these were really just such concerning trends. And then I think when COVID struck we also saw wellbeing really start to decline for many adults and students alike.
But we also saw that some actually thrived particularly in an online environment. And so I think we have to step back again to that purpose and say, you know, how do we help everyone achieve their potential in this world that is moving so swiftly. And I do believe that well-being is at the center of that.
And Tim, you know, you know, you and I have talked about this a lot as we think about the differentiators for schools. I think when we think about independent schools in the future, I think we really need to think about being centers of wellbeing as being the independent school differentiator. That we really understand very uniquely how to support children, and also how to create environments where adults are healthy and thriving too, because we know the causal relationships when you know, adults, whether they be teachers or parents, feel anxiety and stress. That's really translated with the student and we start getting on this kind of hamster wheel. So I think, you know, post pandemic, we have an opportunity to really center around wellbeing and to start to explore human potential from that place of feeling good about yourself, being able to relate to others and being able to leverage that, to create a better society.
Lisa Kay Solomon: The clarity of purpose, which both you and Michael talked about, Donna, is so critical and really starts with leadership, which is, I know, a huge topic that you talk about and that you've been writing so beautifully about.
I love reading your articles, Donna, but I almost love reading the comments to your articles more, because I think you're able to give lift and language to what so many are, are, are feeling. And, and when I think about leadership in this moment, I think about first of all, it is foundationally human. And I want to talk to you in particular about what you see as the leadership path right now for school leaders, who by the way, have also had to manage their own wellbeing.
I mean, I can't imagine a more exhausting and difficult year for leaders who have had to react on urgent issues in a almost relentless way. So I'd love for you to talk a little bit, and particularly as it relates to the last post I read where you talked about the importance of hope that leaders carry, right? Like how to really think about creating a community that believes in purpose and possibility. So I wonder if you could just share a little bit about, about what you're seeing regarding leadership and the leadership requirements of this moment.
Michael Horn: Oh, thanks so much, Lisa. It's been a tough year for leaders. Let's just put it out there. I think, you know, as I talk to school heads, you know, whether it's their first year or they've been a head for 20 years they always say, this is the hardest year I have ever faced as a leader. And you know, we, we actually do a lot of work with new leaders and say to them, you know, this may feel like the hardest year to start your road to headship. But in many ways, everybody is a first year leader this year because they're facing uncertainty. But as you mentioned, I --you know, hope is so important. And I'm going to read a quote because it's one that I've kept in front of me all year long since I heard him talk about this at our People of Color Conference, and that's Brian Stevenson. And he has a quote about hope that I keep up on my wall, and it's this: "Hope is your super power. Don't let anybody or anything make you hopeless. Hope is the enemy of injustice. Hope will get you to stand up when people tell you to sit down." And I think that's really what we need moving forward. And I think it's what leaders, after they have a chance to catch their breath and start to really think about hope, and how they instill hope in their community, will move forward next year. Hope has got to be realistic. Because I think, you know, hope that's out there that doesn't seem realistic or authentic causes mistrust. So I think leaders need to help their community see a path forward and hope that things can get better, and they have to do it in a way that allows people to feel confident about that.
And one of the things that we know is that when leaders really lead with hope, it gives everybody self confidence. It gives them the confidence that they can do this, you know, and confidence is contagious. And once people start feeling that confidence others start to feel it as well, and it opens doors.
And one of the things I want to say about that in our own Strategy Lab program, that I love, is one of the frameworks that we use is helping people to unpack challenges. And I think hope is really present in that because I often think one of the obstacles to hope is that the challenges seem so overwhelming, but if you can break them down and start with the first step then you can make progress and you can feel good about it. And it's like having that flywheel behind your back. I do think after they have a chance to catch their breath, because I don't know a leader who isn't exhausted and feels a need to recharge, but once they do recharge, I really want to echo Brian Stevenson. I hope that for independent school leaders, hope is their super power, and what they really put into practice next year.
Tim Fish: I love that, Donna, I love that quote, "Hope is their super power." And I know we've been talking a lot about what we've been seeing with our, with our leaders in our schools and in K-12 schools in general.
And Michael, I know you spend so much time talking with leaders from higher ed who have been trying to navigate an equally complex environment this year, and I think an equally precarious future around enrollment and so on. And I'm wondering what are you seeing when it comes to hope, and it comes to the vision for the future, and comes to the state of things in higher ed at this moment?
Michael Horn: Well, it's a, it's a good, it's a good question, Tim. And I'll just say there are a lot of institutions that I don't know that they are painting that hope that --that Donna talked about right now in higher ed in, in a way that they need to be. And I say that in the sense of building a narrative that says, this is what we're going to look like on the other side of it. And it may be very different from what we are now, but it will be grounded, not in our explicit processes and traditions, but the spirit of those traditions. And I love the way Donna sort of hearkened back in terms of purpose too, from a historical perspective you know, what, what, what was our grounding, right, on this?
And I think higher ed leaders are struggling right now, frankly, Tim, to hearken back to, you know... as opposed to the reason we do a tenure process this way is because we've always done it this way, instead, remembering the big picture of why they wanted to do that. You know, the academic freedom that it would allow for, the debate, the conversations, the free pursuit of, of, of different ideals and so forth, right. You know, hearkening back to principles and the purpose, as opposed to being wed to: We serve 18 year olds fresh out of high school, because that's what we've always done. When there's 88 million working adults who you know, are desperate in need of, of upskilling and so forth right now to remain relevant in, in not just the jobs of tomorrow. Tomorrow has arrived, right?
The automation and AI. I said we've, we've seen it over the last 12 months of, of businesses as they sent people home, put in technology to figure out new ways of doing things. And so a lot of these institutions that, you know, saw unbelievable cliffs of students, you know, I mean, just, just incredible drop of students enrolling. And, and I would say what Donna said about its being an incredibly hard year for leaders in the K12 space. It's been an enormously hard year for leaders everywhere, certainly, and certainly higher ed. And we've seen a lot of folks exit the profession as a result. But I think the institutions that not just survive, but thrive and leave a mark, will be those where the leaders are able to take what Donna said around hope and craft a narrative of what we will be for our communities and what we can be for humanity.
And I-- I don't see enough of that to be totally honest, but, but I, but I think that there are those leaders who stand out that do an incredible job of it. And that's where I would place my bets. Those institutions will be the ones that we'll talk about, right? Over, over the decades to come, where you'll want to send your kids, where you will want to see them serving working adult learners that need education and up-skilling. Where you want them to be part of defining, you know, the character of this country and internationally and so forth. And so I think that those insights and that wisdom is incredibly important in that sphere.
Lisa Kay Solomon: One of the big opportunities that I think exists in this moment-- and you are just the two right people to be exploring this with-- is the connection between K-12 and higher ed. And it feels like, Michael, and I, I guess I want to start with you because I know you spend a lot of time talking about the job to be done. Right? What is the job to be done around higher ed? What is the job to be done around when kids that graduate K-12 like, think about college. Like, what job are they thinking about when they make that choice? And it feels like that there's an opportunity to find a little bit more congruency between how we're supporting kids through K-12 to then make the transition to higher ed, to be thinking about supporting what we're talking about here around lifelong learners, adaptive thinkers, you know, folks that, that really prioritize well-being as the center of their ability to thrive.
And so, Mike, I'd like to maybe start with you and talk about, you know, what are you seeing as it relates to, as higher ed, you know, is also thinking about the job that they're doing on behalf of these young adults and helping them thrive in the world. How could they communicate and share with K-12 a little bit more clearly about what they're looking for when kids move from K-12 to higher ed? I guess what I'm saying is if you could sort of say, if you could ask these higher ed students to really say to K-12, here's what would be amazing from a job to be done perspective, from a congruency perspective of K-12 through college, through life wellbeing.
Like what, what are some messages that the higher ed might give to K-12 and school leaders?
Michael Horn: Yeah, look. I love your question for several reasons. One of them is, just briefly, I do think that the walls between higher ed and K-12 need to come down in more concerted ways. And you think about how we have divisions between those two institutions. That is a function of history, not perhaps what we need in the current moment. And, and the more I think we can have K-12 schools thinking about what does it mean to serve lifelong learners, and higher ed stretching back into K-12, I think would be a productive trend for all of us.
One of the reasons that I've come so strong to the view that real-world experiences and social capital have to be a critical part of the K-12 experience is that you get students showing up as 18, 19 year olds and they see the data, right. It matters more what your major is than what school you go to. Except they have no idea how to possibly choose a major because they have no idea what career pathways exist in the world, outside of the ones that they see on television shows, YouTube-- and a shocking number of people, by the way, want to be like influencers or entertainers, right, when they grow up.
Tim Fish: That's right.
Michael Horn: Or based on what their parents and their immediate community does. Donna and Tim have heard this before, but you know, I grew up in the Washington, DC area, and like, I literally did not know what an engineer was until like junior or senior year of college. Cause we've got lots of things in Washington, DC, but engineers, not one of them.
I think K-12 has to do a much better job of building people's sense of how does this connect? What could I be? Who are people out there that can mentor me? And developing that. And then the other part of it is you know, the lifelong learning piece, right? Like it can't-- and again, I keep saying knowledge is important because sometimes I think that gets lost, but it's not always for its own sake.
It's to use it to develop these metacognitive skills, to develop skills about how to manage yourself as a lifelong learner, so that you can develop agencies, so that you can keep learning over and over and over again, because you're going to have to, as you grow up. And so I, from my perspective, higher ed would tell K-12, and point to it. You know, this is what you need to develop in these learners because there's a heck of a lot of them-- and this is, you know, from my book, "Choosing College" -- a heck of a lot of them are showing up to higher ed's doorsteps because someone else told them to go to college.
Not because they want to be there, but they're doing it to appease someone else. Doing it... It's what's expected of them. And their intrinsic motivation is extraordinarily low. And we know that if you go to college, you take out debt to go. That can be a great return on investment if you graduate. But if you don't, because you're just not that into it, which is a lot of these students, that's punishing.
And I really do think a lot of that is because of the intrinsic qualities that we're building in individuals in the K-12 system. And we've got to do a heck of a lot better of developing that purpose and passion much earlier in students.
Lisa Kay Solomon: So powerful. Do--I'd love for you to weigh in on this. I mean, if you could like wave your magic wand, right, here are you are, supporting all these school leaders.
If you could be like, listen higher ed, like, please let these school leaders know what really matters to you. Right? Like I just keep thinking. Do you want kids that come in with, you know, nine APs, but like really can't solve a complex problem for their self or even figure out how to get food for themselves? Like, I just feel like we need to do a better job putting language around some of these skills that Michael's talking about around the habits of success and social capital.
Donna Orem: You know, some of our school leaders would say that they've always prized these things, but that higher ed has not prized them. So, you know, to some degree, many of them, I've been in sessions where they will, or I'll talk about the importance of these skills and they will say, ha, you know, we've always had this problem and that we think that social, emotional skills, a sense of purpose, all of these things are really important, but you know, so much of what we do, particularly as you start getting into secondary school, is to get kids into college. And, you know, that's really what parents are -- some, not all-- are wanting when they choose an independent school education. So I think what's going to be really interesting, and I totally agree with Michael, that we, I think we have to break down these walls because there really shouldn't be these these pathways that are so rigid and are so worn in.
You know, and I think we're going to start to see that what we've been doing in K through 12 and grouping kids by age, doesn't really make sense as we learn more about how the brain works. You know, and kids need to make choices. And I think too many of them, for such a long time. Just as Michael said, don't know that there's another option. And I think, you know, particularly in schools, I actually had a son that was very much like this who, you know, really didn't want to go to college, but felt that there was no other path for him. And, you know, I, I think in the next decade, independent schools will start to look at this space very differently.
They know these kids. They certainly know what opportunities might help them to thrive. I think that schools will start to open their eyes to the importance of purpose. I think, you know, Michael talked about that so eloquently, and Tim and I recently were doing some research around trends around Gallup's five areas of thriving, and many of those areas are ones that we traditionally talk about like mental and physical health and social connections. But one of the things they've started writing about through the pandemic is how important purpose is emerging as an indicator of wellbeing. It tended to be one of the ones that we didn't really talk about so much. And I think that having a sense of purpose is really what I think our students need more than anything else. And I think independent schools are starting to see that and are starting to invest in that. So I do think in the next decade, we're going to see some alternative models. I think we're going to see more alternative pathways. I think that we're not going to see school and work necessarily being such different domains, but that you know, students at a much earlier age will have a chance to try on careers and get a sense of what it feels like. So we won't have so many students that are in the category that Michael described that go off to college because there simply doesn't seem to be another acceptable choice.
I think if K through 12 and higher ed can get together to really figure out how to open up these pathways, how to help students really explore their purpose and to, you know, really meet that potential head on. It's going to create a different society for us and, you know, that's my hope. That's how I want to use my super power, in creating the world that looks like that.
Michael Horn: Yeah, Tim and Lisa, if you're okay. Just a quick add on because yeah, I mean, I fear this is boring because Donna and I are so in agreement with each other and everything, but you know, there, there is a piece of this that I think is extraordinarily important where K-12 and higher ed need to collaborate as well, that Donna alluded to, which is educating parents about what really they value. Because otherwise the parents, you know, keep coming to the secondary schools, as Donna said, with the, get my kid into the X college. And because there are limited slots at that college, we get into the zero sum game, which, you know, we totally have to blow past that and get to a positive sum world.
And part of that is like higher ed. I think they're totally guilty of a lot of this. I agree with Donna's point there, but together there needs to be a, more clarity about what they're looking for in applicants and that it's not just sort of, you know breadth of activity and hitting the numbers and so forth, but that it's commitment. That it's showing passion in a couple areas. That it's depth and that you get to define yourself as an individual. Not that you're better than others, but that you're the most unique you, and that you have this purpose. You know, that's something higher ed and K-12, I think, need each other to build that message. And I do think parents are more open to it perhaps than they have been, A) because of the pandemic, but B) because of the soaring cost of college, like, I've been surprised the number of parents that come up to me and say like, there's gotta be an alternative.
And I'm like, well, I agree because I live, breathe, eat, drink this stuff all day long, but wow. The message is getting out to the wider public as well.
Tim Fish: Yeah, that's right. You know, and Michael, it's interesting. I'm always wondering sort of, how do you educate parents to this idea of the power of purpose and agency, and a student sort of having that drive and that ability to create and to move themselves forward?
And for me, it's, it's just through example. I find that parents often are going to expect school to be what school has been, and what it was for them, and what they feel like it needs to be. And yet, when a school is able to give a student an opportunity to do a project in a different way, to get engaged deeply with something, to work with a team, the parents are lit up about it. You know, I think for me, it's one of the most consistent things I've seen. Before the pandemic, I would actually visit schools, and when I would walk around, and they would often say, we're going to, we want to show you this thing. And they would show me something when I would go, whether it be documentary filmmaking or robotics or a cardiac lab or something else.
And they would say, look what these students are doing. And the most amazing thing for me was that the single thread that connected all of those spaces was agency. That they were creating a structure and they were sort of giving the students enough of a space and enough of a challenge. And then they were getting out of their way.
And I think the part that I've always been amazed by is that idea that it could happen with very young children as well. Right. This notion that we have to do the basics in lower school so that they can be ready for agency in upper school. I think I've seen many schools that are able to sort of transcend that, and, and bring that in, even at the youngest ages.
Michael Horn: Yeah, I -- look, I agree completely with your insight that showing not talking about it is, you know, the example is the most powerful element that schools have in this. I also think, you know, there's the Simon Sinek thing of start with why before you talk about what and I think that's incredibly important because in my experience, and I'm not necessarily talking about the independent school sector here, but more broadly in K-12 schools, leaders often start with the what ,and then they get into the how, and then they get lost in the details. And no one knows why we're doing this. And the third piece of that for an example purpose, I think is: We also have to blow up the system that focuses on time. You know, Donna was talking about eliminating grade levels. I totally agree with that. And that means moving to a mastery based set of progressions, right? Where you're going to master something and not move on from it just because, you know, it's, it's April 1st and it's time to move on from this particular unit.
Because by doing that, we undermine all that we say we value around growth mindset, grit, sticking to something. Like we literally can talk about all those things, but the talk is cheap if we don't live up to it. And so I think to your point, Tim, we just have to do it. But we have to think bigger and not just accept the current construct because you can't always do it in those constructs.
I think you're right also about the young learners. It's all about, I mean, I've been so taken with the Montessori education and as you all know, not only are my kids in the school, but in the homeschool environment, we did, we set up a Montessori environment in our backyard in a greenhouse, which was literally insane. But the, you know, the, the, the magic of it is the prepared environment allows them to have agency within that construct. And you keep giving more and more. So you are developing it with intentionality over time. So it's not some Lord of the Flies experiment if you will, but--
Tim Fish: Yeah, no, it's, it's a key piece, it's this notion of the structure that goes along with the agency. And for me, Lisa, this is, I think so much of the work you're doing. This idea of the design opportunity, right? The notion of the educator as designer of that construct that you then put the students in and then you back away. Right? That is just, that design can be so magical if done well.
Lisa Kay Solomon: Absolutely. And it gets back to then the purpose. What is the purpose of a classroom? What is the purpose of a learning experience? Is the purpose to impart knowledge from one to the other, is the purpose to create the conditions, the norms, the values that will create the container from which every individual can find growth in that, and that the educator's there to facilitate that growth holistically, not just the growth of skills or the academic content, but the growth of resilience, the growth of grit, like Michael was talking about. And Michael, I will say, I mean, this conversation, I have a dream, right? I have a dream. Maybe it's the futurist in me, that instead of schools publishing the list of where they, their kids go to college. Right? Which is the ultimate thing that we end up looking at. And Ron Lieber just had a great article about why it should be asterisked and why we need to set context around it.
I think that it is a moment to start to give form to that mastery, give form to those ideas, so that we can let go of the old legacy, which is not serving school leaders well, educators well, and certainly not our kids well because they're confused, they're trying to do both. And so by doing, they're actually trying to do more. So that actually leads me to a question for you: what do school leaders need to let go of? Right? Like in this moment where we are asking school leaders to, to repair, recover, to focus on their own wellbeing, the wellbeing of their communities, this takes time.
So, so what can we give them permission to say, I'm not doing that anymore. And you know what? You shouldn't do that either.
Donna Orem: Well, you know, it's such an interesting conversation, this last topic. I'm going to go back to parents for a second, because I think, you know, part of what permeates through this entire ecosystem is fear. And I feel for parents today. When I was a parent, we didn't have social media. My parents didn't even know where I was applying to college. It was a very different day. And I think, you know, now we have just this fear as a parent, and we hear it in the parents that we interview.
If they don't make the right choice, you know, and they don't make those choices early on, you know, game over for their students. And so it just creates this fear that I think then they bring to school. And school leaders are looking at you know, these are parents paying tuition, with expectations, and how will I balance what I know is great and right for kids in those environments with pleasing parents? So I think, you know, this is part of the challenge for school leaders today, is how do you walk that line? And, and Michael is so right about the parent education. And I know we just published a book called "Hopes and Fears," that actually is for teachers and administrators at schools, to understand the hopes and fears that parents have and how to deal with them. And when I first read the book, I thought, boy, I wish I had a book like this for parents when I was a parent at an independent school, because it would have helped me to actually partner with the school a lot more effectively.
So, you know, I, I think we have to go back to the foundation and I think if school leaders want to make progress in this area, they need to really partner with parents and students. And I think that begins with creating communities of empathy. I think that's something else that we do not talk a lot about. And I know I'm a huge fan of a Stanford colleague, Lisa, Jamil Zaki, who has done all this research around empathy and how, you know, we're in this time where there's been this huge decline in empathy, and I think it opens the door to stress and anxiety and loneliness and fear. And I think, you know, again, going back to the issue about building schools around wellbeing, I think that begins with building communities that know how to empathize. They know how to understand what others are feeling. They can walk a mile in their shoes. And I think when we create that community where the empathy is really just soaked in every pore of the community, we can grow together.
I think it will give school leaders the runway to be able to enact a lot of the changes that we've spoken about, because I think parents can let go of their fears. I think students can let go of their fears. And we can be places that allow children to grow and become who they are uniquely destined to become.
And as your colleague said, you know, the pandemic has, in many ways, forced us to look inward. So I think a lot of the pushback that we're seeing against a lot of school initiatives around DEIJ right now are about that isolation and more of an inward focus. And I think we actually have to bring communities back to the common good. I truly believe in the goodness of human beings. I believe that at our base, we really do have the ability to be kind and empathetic human beings. And I think, you know, if we start building those communities and think about co-creating the future with parents and students and teachers as really partners on this journey together, you know, we're gonna just create magic, I think, in our schools.
Tim Fish: Donna, I absolutely love that. And it, you know, it brings us, I think, to the end of our first episode of New View EDU, and I just, I'll tell ya, let it begin. Let the conversation begin, because I'll tell you, this-- what an incredible dialogue about partnership, about co-creation, about agency.
I love the notion of how we can partner more with higher ed and the essential nature of that work. And so I just want to, from, on my behalf, just say, thank you so much, Donna and Michael, for spending some time with us today, and for kicking off this new podcast. We are so excited to get it started. And so excited you were able to join us today.
Lisa Kay Solomon: Thank you so much. I mean, for me, the big takeaway is this notion of how we can move from a narrative of fear, to one of hope. And I think about every school leader kicking off their new year with a communal message of hope. That hope is something we can amplify and be intentional about.
I just want to say thank you so much for joining us today. You really did embody New View EDU in every way, and very excited to keep this conversation going.
Donna Orem: Thank you, Lisa and Tim, and always a pleasure, Michael, to spend some time with you.
Michael Horn: Likewise, likewise, Donna. It was a heck of a lot of fun.