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Part 3: Self-Knowledge

High school and college offer tremendous opportunities to young people.  But are they able to take advantage of them?  In order to make the most of this time of life one needs to have some awareness about oneself.  What do I like?  What am I good at?  What do I find fulfilling?  What are my best and worst tendencies?  If a young person never gets the chance to explore these questions earlier in life, how can we expect them to have the self-awareness necessary to take bold and auspicious steps during their teenage years and beyond?

Most adults will admit that they were somewhat lost during the ages of 14-21, having little sense of direction and purpose.  The lucky ones find their calling later on, while the unlucky ones may remain in that state of confusion for years to come.  I am not saying that every Progressive School graduate knows exactly what they are going to do with their life.  I am saying that they are acutely self-aware, and that knowledge about themselves sets them apart from their peers.  It gives them a much better chance of maximizing the energy and freedom they have to explore.  They are more likely to open doors, and open the right door.  They have shown an ability to choose the right courses, clubs, and extracurricular activities.  They often make their mark within their interest area.  This has been observed by us for many years now.  That is why it is the third most frequently cited quality our graduates notice about themselves.

Developing this quality takes time.  It also takes a commitment to a set of priorities that includes empowering young people with the chance to explore and make decisions early in life.  We have developed this quality through:

  • experimenting with electives and independent studies (this is a required element and takes up to 10% of a child's week)
  • the ongoing sharing of a multitude of interest areas with classmates
  • allowing students the chance to make decisions, and experience the consequences of making mistakes

Progressive School of Long Island

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