Earlier this year, as we filed into our advisor’s tight office for extended advisory, she pulled out a video of Mr. Noe on her laptop. In the video, he talked about competencies and mindsets and how they were going to influence the future of Lakeside School. A few days later, in H200, we discussed the impact of the Industrial Revolution on labor conditions and the job market as many workers were ill-equipped to tackle the changing work environments.
Accordingly, it makes sense that Lakeside is doing something to adjust our curriculum in a time of relentless innovation that Mr. Noe dubs the Technological Revolution. Still, many people were left with a sense of dissatisfaction with the ambiguity of the video. What exactly were these competencies and mindsets? How were they going to be taught? Even Lakeside’s definition, “Competencies are what graduates can do, Mindsets are who our graduates are,” seemed bombastic and vague.
Taking this into consideration, I set out to find out what those words meant, and how they would be implemented at school. Specifically, I spoke with Bryan Smith, director of Experiential Learning at Lakeside, about the intricacies of this new plan as it relates to the outdoor portion of the Lakeside curriculum. He is leading the experiential learning portion of the re-envisioning, working to gain an understanding of how Service Learning, Outdoor Trips, and Global Service learning, or GSL, teach these competencies and mindsets and how they can translate into the classroom.
The experiential learning portion of Lakeside’s curriculum is a unique feature that many other schools don’t have. Students are able to use activities like outdoor trips and GSL to further their understanding of the world around them, but as the world begins to change like Bernie mentions, the GSL program must adapt accordingly (for more information on GSL, see Leyla R. ’21’s article on pg___).
Some students have expressed concern at the feasibility of implementing this vision in tangible ways, and one Tatler poll respondent wrote, “I think [the competencies and mindsets] are a great idea; I don’t quite understand how they will be incorporated into the curriculum and measured in a way that they can actually see if their goals are being met.”
How does one implement competencies and mindsets into a GSL trip, let alone a classroom? Although one student notes that “Bernie said they already [incorporate the competencies and mindsets at Lakeside], but some of them were totally absent from my experience at Lakeside,” Mr. Smith argues that they have already been a part of the experiential program for a long time. He uses the mindset of resilience as an example: “The concept of resilience can be taught in a lot of different ways, but from my perspective, it is baked into the experiential aspects of our curriculum. Whether that be how GSL experiences are now incorporated into some of our courses or how each Lakeside student goes on an outdoor trip as a graduation requirement, we do know from student feedback that they felt pushed in ways that helped them grow. Mainly what resilience is how a student is able to face a challenge—whether that is intellectual, emotional, physical, etc and then find a way to keep going.”
As part of Mr. Smith’s role in the new re-envisioning, he will be working on how to incorporate small examples like these into the classroom and figuring out how to assess them. Based on this, it is reasonable to assume that the competencies and mindsets would be taught in the same manner: pushing students outside of their comfort zones in order to learn new skills.
To students who are still unsure about the re-envisioning process, one that has been going on in the background for almost a year and a half, Mr. Smith has this to say: “I think what you will find is that while it seems different and uncomfortable, much of what students will discover is that these competencies are aspects that they experience already in their classes, on their athletic teams, in their artistic productions, and in GSL village homestays. We are [only] examining how we can highlight these competencies [and mindsets] more intentionally.”
It may seem like a huge transition away from our normal school life, but in reality, we have already been learning these competencies and mindsets for a long time. The only difference now is that they are being emphasized by the administration in a highly visible manner.