When I first thought to teach students the tools of their own self-evolution as learners, using The Art of War as a toolkit, it struck many educators as quirky, to say the least. Still does. But when I get to spend a few hours with students, immersed in the simple, powerful lessons that I have tried to capture in The Falconer: What We Wish We Had Learned in School, well, it doesn’t get better than reflections like this from a 10th grade student in the morning session at All Saints Episcopal School in Ft. Worth:
At the end of the three hours, my head felt like someone was banging on my skull from the inside, the session had been that intense. Never had that happened to me in a History or English or even some Math and Science classes, where my head hurt from thinking so much and seeing both the small and big picture at the same time. It was then that I figured out what the Honors College was: a place to learn how to think in more than one way, how to present yourself to colleges, and how to become a more innovative, creative thinker.
Or, as one of my own Falconer students said more than a decade ago: “We would all trade a lot of knowledge for a little bit of wisdom.”
Later that same day, I worked with the AP English classes that had read The Art of War, and they have just sent me their own reflections. These seniors are all going through the college acceptance process, so it is reasonable that many of them see college acceptance as the challenge they are trying to overcome, the problem to be solved. I remind them of what Sun Tzu teaches us:
The warrior first wins the battle and then fights it. You have already won this battle, by working hard in school for many years, you are all going to go to a great college; stop worrying; the battle is over. For students who are not in their senior year yet, who look ahead at this challenge, learn the lesson now. If you wait to fight battles when they are upon you, you will not win. Prepare well in advance and you will always win.
Thanks to the great students of All Saints Episcopal for making my Sunday!