When you get up in the morning and look in the mirror, do you see your whole self?
This is kind of a strange question, I know, but stick with me.
I usually do not see my whole self. I see a few more wrinkles than there used to be, and I feel compelled to apply just a bit more concealer, hoping to preserve a younger me, but I don't see anything beyond the surface physical appearance.
Perhaps if I am being very intentional and reflective, I look into my own eyes and ask such questions as, "Are you OK today? What are your goals? Where has life's journey taken you?"
In all seriousness, though, how often do we stop to ask those kinds of questions and really begin to look at our whole selves?
The whole self really should be at the core of education. Somewhere along the way, we have gotten the concepts of education and learning confused.
Education now is a system of learning, but learning at its most foundational level is the growth, expansion and transformation of the human mind and heart. As such, learning is really about the whole self.
Education as a system has become about boxes or categories of subjects to be mastered, not about understanding how content engages the hearts and minds of human beings and shapes their experience. We have seen the fallout of our one-size-fits-all, test-them-until-they-can't-stand-it-anymore system.
During the past school year, the state of Ohio rolled out its strategic plan for education from 2019 to 2024. And in it, the "whole child" is mentioned, right there in black and white. It is direction from the state to consider -- even to intentionally plan -- for foundational knowledge and skills, well-rounded content, leadership and reasoning, and social-emotional learning. This is as close to a view of the whole child as I have seen the system recognize during my career.
Although I don't know where the state's plan will go or what it will look like in classrooms across our great state, it gives me hope the adults who control the system of education are seeing that learning involves more than passing tests about isolated subjects.
Both of my teenage children have said to me in one form or another, "I hate school, but I love learning." Ouch! To be an educator who has dedicated her whole life to serving students and to be their mother and hear those words -- oh, it cuts me to the core.
But like most of my days as a parent and a teacher, young people constantly are teaching me -- teaching me that I need to see each student as a whole human being with needs, interests, hurts, hobbies, beliefs, background, hopes, fears, skills and aptitude.
We are working hard to do this at Tolles Career & Technical Center.
I will be honest: We aren't there yet. The bureaucratic system of education makes seeing the whole child a challenge sometimes.
But our mantra is to "lift all students." It is what we aspire to.
I love the phrase "college and career ready," but even more than that, when considering the whole child, I think I like the phrase "human ready" even more.
Let's design a system for every young person. Let's design a system that recognizes the whole of every young person we serve.
Emmy Beeson is superintendent of Tolles Career & Technical Center, which includes students from the Dublin and Hilliard school districts. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.