December 3, 2018

The Freedom to Ask Questions

Ivan Johnson / Dean of Student Life

We all know that Oakwood supports the imagination of our students, but how do kids learn to use their imaginations? A school has to trust its teachers to help them do this. When a teacher truly feels safe enough to be vulnerable, both teachers and students can pursue questions with no right answers.

During an independent study on songwriting I was teaching with five students, one decided that we should try and write a musical, so we did. We composed a 90-minute piece, we rented a theatre in LA, and ran a 4-night production of the show. At no moment was there a clear answer or direction. At no point could I have told you how it would all end up because it was a problem with no single right answer.

Oakwood lets us use our imagination every day. I have the privilege of coming to this community and imagining what education could look like. I get to question the world around me with my students and imagine the possibilities created by questions with no right answers.

Oakwood, like the world we live in, is a place filled with no right answers. What we did yesterday informs what we should do today, but it does not dictate the future. If you are reading this as a parent to a child in kindergarten here at Oakwood, I can confidently say that I have no idea what we will be teaching your student by the time they get to the secondary school campus. Who knows what seemingly unanswerable questions the world will be asking by 2031? But I do know that Oakwood will still be asking them. We let every member of this community use their imagination to explore their own passions and, since I started working here at the age of 20, I have felt safe enough to follow where my curiosity leads me.

For that I am and will always be grateful.