*** For the 2021-2022 school year, the Loudoun Field Center is offering a “seed” program with M, W, F, full-curriculum support through our partner, Bridgeway Academy. Students go through our full evaluation and customized curriculum process, and convene at the Field Center three days a week for 33 weeks to complete their academic work with the support of Field Center Staff. There is a limit of only 15 spaces in our seed program. As programs are added throughout the year, including our Great Conversations program, Vocational Science, Fine Arts, Physical Education, etc, our seed program students will get to participate in the new courses for substantially reduced rates. ***
***The tuition for the 2021-2022 “seed” program is $6000 for the entire year.***
Sometimes your passion and your career don’t match up. You need both, but they don’t have to be the same thing.
A few years ago, Mike Rowe did a great video and it was covered in some articles and on his social media. The tagline was “Don’t Follow Your Passion.” My favorite line from the whole thing was this one though:
Just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you won’t suck at it.
There is a tendency is American culture to ask a complete stranger, first thing, what they do for a living. In some cultures, it’s considered impolite, and akin to asking “how much money do you make?” This could be something worth re-evaluating about how we converse, even in the marketplace.
The reason for this is that one of the most challenging aspects of adulthood is coming to terms with what you’re good at it, versus what you’re “passionate” about, and then what is going to support you and a family and make you money.
But deciding whether your passion should be a career is tricky. Sometimes it simply has to do with where the money is on the bell curve. A “really good” mechanic — in, say… the 85th percentile — can make very good money, especially if they know quite well how to run a business and deal well with people. However, a baseball player in the 95th percentile of all high school baseball players…will likely make basically zero money as a professional baseball player. (Just take the total number of high school baseball players this year — about half a million — and divide by the number of college baseball players this year — about fifty thousand — then realize that the number of professional baseball players: about 750. There have only been about 20,000 MLB players… EVER.)
If your passion is in the arts, it’s even trickier. Real talent is not as easily recognized. Sometimes it’s timing, or connections, or blind luck, and mediocre musicians and artists get discovered and make good money because they’ve hit on something there is a commercial demand for and the right people recognize it and promote it. Other extremely talented artists remain in the shadows forever and never take off.
So beyond Mike Rowe’s point… at some things you don’t even have to “suck” at it… they’re just the types of careers that you just have to be the absolute best at to stand out and make a good living. No, this does NOT mean you should not pursue your passion for poetry, or food, or book-binding, just be acutely aware of what the demand is for the products or services your passions can produce… Be GREAT at, and find JOY in the things that you’re passionate about, and develop concrete and duplicable, predictable skills, in the things that make you money. Sometimes they can match up as the same thing. Sometimes they won’t. It’s in the making them the same thing that you don’t want to apply too much pressure.
And lastly, don’t forget that work and play can mix in unpredictable ways. For every one person that has had the “Do something you LOVE for a living and you’ll never work a day in your life” experience, there are quite a few that have had the “Do something you love for a living and what you love becomes a JOB, and you’ll grow to hate it” experience.
OH, and the next time you meet someone new, instead of starting with “What do you do?” or ask them, “What are you reading these days?” or, “What do you do for fun?” Regardless of what people do to pay the bills, they like to talk about what they are passionate about. So… as Mike would say, “Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you.”
Introducing the Loudoun Field Center, a high school alternative near Lucketts, VA. We’ve carved out 100 acres of Loudoun wilderness to give students the chance to ESCAPE and forge a productive path to adulthood.
We can help prepare our teens for adulthood, in a service-minded and challenging way
There are a myriad of things which we can say about the current landscape of education. Living in Loudoun County, VA, we could focus on the “culture war” playing itself out at the school board meetings. Alternatively we could focus on the disconnect between secondary education and careers, in terms of college graduates finding themselves “failing to launch” and living back at home with their folks.
We could talk about those young adults, having launched, marrying later than they ever really imagined, feeling disappointment in their careers — if they have one—a lack of fulfillment in their relationships, disconnect from their communities. In the end, it would be hard not to come to one over-arching and inevitable conclusion: something has to change.
Where does the failure lie? Who is to blame? Schools? Families? The Church? Bad diet? Social media? Sin? Video Games?
Who knows, really. But what can we do about it? Maybe another “Great Awakening” is around the corner. Maybe these things have a tendency to simply work themselves out. Every generation seems to have a version of lament about “kids these days.”
The truth is that there is one place where we can look to try to make a real difference: High School.
High School is that magical place where the children gain all the functional abilities to become an adult, but without the Executive Function to do it in a way that doesn’t make us all a little bit anxious. Infinite possibilities and infinite diversity in infinite combinations all culminating in that glorious moment: when they turn 18 and they are no longer the legal responsibility of anyone but themselves.
So what would a high school look like if all it really focused on was making sure that at that monumental 18th birthday, the newly minted “adult” was in the best possible position to forge their path into the “real world”?
First, it would most certainly NOT focus on “career readiness”… mainly because there is a great likelihood that whatever given career the youngster intends to pursue, either their talents, their opportunities, or sheer circumstances will likely lead them somewhere completely unexpected, and that’s not always a bad thing (your humble author was supposed to be an astronomer).
Second, a properly focused secondary educational program would most likely NOT focus too much on the social “identity” aspects of their lives, as they are still in the process of understanding the own inclinations and personalities. Constant obsessions with identity in terms of groups or in terms of individualism has resulted in our current zeitgeist’s inculcation into modern youth an unspeakably harmful narcissism. This leads nowhere but disappointment.
Speaking of self discovery (and disappointment), this high school program would also certainly NOT be focused on a mission to “save the world” or to make “relevant contributions” to the world. Many life and career paths can seem very frustrating and unfulfilling, especially as it is measured up against the unrealistic (or unreal) profiles one is going to see on one’s friends’ Instagrams. Not everyone is going to be a marine biologist and save the whales, much less the planet from ecological catastrophes. Not everyone is going to cure cancer, fix world hunger, or end racism. Some will be thankful for having a job where they can help anyone or build anything or feel like they’re making a difference at all, even within their own small communities.
Rather, a “high school” education should work not on the future, or for that matter the past or even just being “present” and “in the now.” Instead it should be about the Permanent Things. Things that have lasted and will last. Character, wisdom, humility, and all the virtues of humanity which unfailingly make us good husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, service-minded bosses or employees, citizens and statesmen, thinkers, craftsmen, artists… human beings.
A real, modern, and successful high school experience should be concerned with developing strong communication skills — reading, writing, listening, thinking, and speaking — so as to prepare young adults to communicate with a variety of people in a variety of circumstances, wherever life takes them.
Lastly, an effective high school program should encourage students to focus less on saving the world and more on improving themselves. It should help them to work on their own strengths and challenges; to take the time and give proper attention to their souls, spirits, and their Creator, so that when they go out into the world, they can make it better by their witness, their example, their faith, and through confidence borne through humility and God’s grace.
All of us — mentors, parents, citizens, students — are in a position right now where we see the “system,” for lack of a better term, systematically failing us. But our community is stronger, more resilient, more permanent, and has no choice but to strive for something better.
We are so excited to be kicking off the 2021-2022 school year, our inaugural year with a full-curricular program at the Loudoun Field School. We are so privileged to be able to support your family and your student through their secondary education adventure. Whether you jumped into independent education with both feet excited about giving your teenager the flexibility to create their own educational path, or if you are in a position where non-traditional options have been thrust upon you, you are not alone, and we are proud of you for making the leap, and honored that you would make it with us!
The Field Center is here to be not only a place, but a supportive family, for those who wanted to make sure that their son or daughter has all the opportunities possible to become life-long learners. It is incumbent upon us, as parents and teachers of the upcoming generation to carry on the legacy of deliberate, thoughtful, purposeful, and curious learning. We all take that seriously and to that end have created a program committed to challenging students (and ourselves) to ask the hard questions and to explore the ideas which continue to challenge our modern world:
What is the meaning of success?
What in today’s world is considered a life well lived?
How does one navigate the information age to find wisdom and truth?
In what we have we over-indulged our view of identity and self as defined culturally?
Does true greatness come from power and influence or from virtue and justice?
We see the purpose of education to be more than simply Math, Science, Writing, and the Humanities, but indeed fundamentally: Intellectual Development, Character Formation, and Communication Skills. We strive for future scientists, engineers, and craftsmen to approach their missions with reverence and wisdom. We envision future parents; citizens and statesmen; entrepreneurs and managers to lead people with humility and honor, in all areas of life. This is why the Field Center teaches through Shared Inquiry, Collaborative Learning, and Guided Projects.
From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for having your son or daughter join us on this voyage. We pledge every day to give all we have and all we are to the honest search for what is virtuous, beautiful, and real in the world, lest we be faced with the prospect of explaining to our grandchildren what once was.
Butch Porter Interim Director of the Loudoun Field School Founder/Director of Independent Education Services, LLC (IndED)