School like it should be

December 29, 2021 | Craig Doerksen

big cheese 1

“I hate you, Mr. Doerksen.”

When spoken by a student to a teacher, those words can go in a lot of different directions! Not all the possibilities are as bad as they seem. The student’s squinting eyes and sly grin looking past her classmates down the the table to where I sat suggested her meaning did not lie on the surface of the words. “Why do you hate me?” I asked.

“Because this class is so helpful, and you told us it would be,” she said.

“Um…” was all I got out before a classmate chimed in something to the effect of: “You said this class was about helping us become flourishing adults and all that and of course we didn’t believe you because what is that anyways? and things adults say that are supposed to help us don’t actually do so but this class is and that’s weird, so that’s why.”

This exchange shows but one reason why I love teenagers—brutally honest, reasonably skeptical about adults’ words and promises, but eagerly, earnestly, trying to figure it all out because it’s going to be on them if they don’t.

Their declaration of surprise (and backhanded gratitude) that the learning they were doing was actually helpful tells us a lot about what students have come to expect in education. At Waterloo, we’re rewiring those expectations, building real-world skills, and supporting mindsets to help them, well, as the second student said, “become flourishing adults and all that”.

Help us continue to shrink the gap between what kids need and what school provides—and to make this available to more students!

Your gift to the Big Cheese Campaign will go directly toward more students thanking us (by telling us they hate us because we’re actually fulfilling our mission.)

Click on the link to join our families in this campaign.
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With Thanks,
Craig Doerksen

Craig Doerksen

Craig Doerksen

Prior to becoming the director of Waterloo School, Craig provided leadership for a number of prominent institutions, including Regents School of Austin; the Bluetower Arts Foundation in Eugene, OR; and Trinity School in Raleigh, NC. Craig holds a master’s degree in English from the University of Ireland and graduated from the University of Oregon with a bachelor’s degree in English.