What Makes Us Unique  --  Great Books  -- Individual Mission

"This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose
recognized by yourself as a mighty one." - George Bernard Shaw

        Every student at Paradigm High School is required to take core classes which will ensure a wide breadth and depth of knowledge integral to a liberal arts education.  However, each student is also viewed as an individual person with a unique mission.  Paradigm High seeks to aid the student in identifying and forming that mission, through helping him to understand and capitalize on his strengths and interests and to strengthen those areas of weakness that might hinder the fulfillment of his mission. 


“In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”-Michelangelo-    

As so often happens when any organization, or enterprise is asked to give an explanation of themselves they will usually describe what they do, or how they do it. This is the case with Paradigm as well. We talk in terms of “socratic dialogue” and “reading classics” “learning how to think, not what to think” and “servant-leadership” etc. These are things we do, or how we do it. While these things are important, they are not why Paradigm exists, they only facilitate our why.

Let me refer you to the Michelangelo quote above. If we were able to watch the sculptor work on rough stone I think most of us would see the artist form the stone into an image. An image of his choosing. His words change that perspective. He is not forming the stone into an image that he wants. He recognizes within the stone an image that already exists. Michelangelo says in another place,  (More)

 “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it”.

Sometimes in Education it is assumed that the student is to be molded into a predetermined form, that it is the schools job to shape the student into an image of its making. That image is a person who has been trained with certain skills and knowledge that can later be used to accomplish assigned tasks. These skills and knowledge we all know: a knowledge and mastery of mathematics, science, history, government, reading, writing, art and so on. With these the student is finished; they have been formed by the sculptor and now are ready.

 At Paradigm we try to start with a different premise.

            “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free”


 Each student has within them something more than what is demonstrated by outward appearances and it is up to the sculptor to discover, or uncover what that something is. In this case the sculptor is the student. Mentors are guides to help students understand that a knowledge and mastery of mathematics, science, history, government, reading, writing, art and so on are the sculptor’s (student’s) tools to discover the image within. With this understanding the student begins a life of self-discovery; beginning with basic tools, then discovering more as they learn to use more advanced tools and techniques. This perspective may not change much of how or what a student learns in school, but it changes everything about why they learn. Instead of a person who can only accomplish tasks and assignments through the application of skills, they become the sculptor of their life. One who is able to introduce who they are into every task and assignment they accomplish. They learn that every experience in life is an opportunity for their image to come forth from the stone, and that knowledge and skills have far more value to them, and the world, than they ever before considered.