The Wisdom of Youth

Ariella gazes out of the windows of Thoreau's cabin.

Ariella gazes out of the windows of Thoreau’s cabin.

One of the graduation requirements of LiHigh School is that each student has to complete an autobiography that includes 25 pages for each year they attend the school (i.e., 9th graders will complete a 100-page autobiography, but students who transfer in during 11th grade only have to write a 50-page autobiography). Our seniors turned in their autobiographies last week, but the underclassmen have another week before it’s due.

With such long autobiographies, we can’t expect each student to read through the autobiographies of their classmates, which means they miss out on the experiences their peers have had and the lessons their peers have learned.

So for today’s morning seminar, I asked the students to write down four pieces of wisdom that they’ve acquired over their lifetimes and that they may have rediscovered while writing their autobiographies.

The students then went around the table and shared these pieces of wisdom with each other, explaining the experiences that provided them with that wisdom. Because each piece of wisdom came with a four or five minute story, to be followed by a discussion among the group, I asked each student to only share one of the four that they had written down, the one they thought was most important for their peers to hear.

These are the wisdoms they shared:

  • Let people influence you, but don’t let them mold you into who they want you to be.
  • Be a little crazy and don’t stop when people say you are. Just laugh and respond, “Maybe I am.”
  • Be okay with being vulnerable because vulnerability is a beautiful thing; it’s what connects us.
  • Accept your losses, and live and love without them.
  • You have to forgive yourself before you can forgive anyone else.
  • Recognize your relationships and brief encounters with strangers in your life, because they always make an impact.

It was a very deep seminar, with the tears and laughter that often accompany the gaining and sharing of wisdom. I can’t thank the students enough for being open with me and with each other. Today’s seminar is one of the reasons I absolutely love being a part of LiHigh School, and I can’t wait to learn from the beauty and wisdom next year’s students will bring to the table.

Author: Kyle Callahan

Hi, I'm Kyle. I'm an advisor at LiHigh School. I've been involved in progressive education since I was in high school. I was an original member (and student representative) of the Progressive Program at Green Mountain College, and for my Master's degree, I attended Goddard College, which started the trend toward progressive education in the 1960s. Along with teaching at LiHigh School, I teach courses in creative writing and communications at Green Mountain College. I live with my wife and daughter in Poultney.

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