“[E]mpathy is a stunning act of derring-do,
the ultimate virtual reality–climbing into another’s mind
to experience the world from that person’s perspective.”
– Daniel Pink
A Whole New Mind
The first time I stood before the Crossroads student body and said, “I believe that Crossroads students are smart and good,” I noticed a change in the collective body language of the students. Clearly, they had heard this before, and clearly, they are proud of this distinction. I hear teachers and parents talk about this, too. It’s not enough to be smart. Intelligence is a means to an end, not just an end itself.
Learning across the arc of one’s life and solving problems creatively are ways of being smart and good. However, in this century, life-long learning and creative problem solving aren’t enough. Our abilities to empathize, to seek understanding of others, and to collaborate are paramount to how we communicate and how we respond to civic and social responsibilities. This ability to climb into “another’s mind to experience the world” from another perspective take a great deal of self-knowledge and discipline. It takes a great deal of goodness.
In an age that is both “high concept and high touch” (per Daniel Pink), knowledge and sensitivity to others support our humanity in the speedy and hyper-connected global world in which we live. At Crossroads, I am learning that we do not just encourage “smartness” and “goodness”, we expect both. This is strong language. Being smart and good is not just an opportunity, it’s not just something we hope or allow for, it is something we expect.
I am proud that Crossroads students think critically, solve problems creatively, and act with empathy. I am proud that we are smart and good.