Most teachers often work very long hours and against great odds so every child has the skills to succeed. Despite low salaries and shrinking budgets, they are trying to provide the best possible experiences and be the role models that inspire students to love learning. In addition, with enrichment classes and other pull-out programs for gifted learners, schools are also trying to provide as much differentiation as they can. Even so, Mark Twain’s remark that he did not let schooling interfere with his education still resonates with many of us.
While challenges such as teaching to the tests, superfluous homework and pressure cooker atmosphere in middle and high schools continue to persist, many parents also have even more ambitious expectations. Can holistic education that includes character development, emotional intelligence and personalized physical education be an earnest, mainstream objective of our educational institutions? Can foundational competencies such as curiosity, empathy, grit, gratification deferment and resilience be a legitimate curricular goal? How teachable are these skills? And, finally, how expensive would it be to offer truly individualized education?
It was aspirations and questions such as these that led me, as a concerned parent, to research the state of our current understanding of child development. Interestingly, my career objectives (in the semiconductor industry) also concern understanding and improving performance, albeit of integrated circuits in this case. I am passionate about understanding the sources behind the statistical variability of semiconductor circuits and using new algorithms and machine learning to minimize extreme excursions in circuit performance.
As one would expect, my research quickly reaffirmed the importance of fostering a growth mindset and cultivating an uplifting and stimulating learning environment. More interestingly, my meta-study not only revealed the significant role played by core competencies such as empathy, creativity, grit and gratification deferment in shaping our life outcomes, it also showed that many of these competencies are actually teachable. Even though many of these growth factors and success markers have been well known for a while now, they have not yet gained the necessary prominence in most of our school curriculums.
These expectations are the motivation for the founding of Sankalpa Academy. Needless to say, I would not have been very successful in launching Sankalpa Academy without the patience and support of my family. For this support and encouragement, I am profoundly grateful. This project also benefited tremendously by the guidance and encouragement of Leanne Paulin and Thomas Coles, our dear family friends and exceptional home school teachers and Vaithialingam Balayoghan, a chief architect at Microsoft, an old family friend and a lifelong learner, and numerous other friends and family. In addition, I am especially grateful that Emma Hilland has decided to join and support me in this endeavor. Emma is a compelling and passionate voice for purposeful education and we are fortunate that she is able to lead Sankalpa Academy.
The most exciting part of our journey comes now, when all of this preparation and investment bears fruit. We can’t wait to partner with you and your children, our future generation of leaders and seekers. With specialist teachers, a cognitive psychologist, master yoga teachers and a proven head of school, we feel that we are well equipped to provide a truly authentic growth experience for our children. Please join us in building a community that celebrates our collective development and empowerment.