Fulfilling Purpose

What is the purpose of school?

It’s a simple question that’s been asked time and time again both by people who want to improve the system and students suffering in within it, and there are many different answers to it. However, distilled, here’s the gist of the answers.

  1. Help kids learn and improve
  2. Make sure kids graduate having successfully learned the curriculum
  3. Get kids ready for the “real world”

These goals seem helpful, and for many they are! For many, the system leads to successful careers, high achievements, and what many consider to be a life well led. However, it doesn’t serve everybody. For them, the school system leads to a lot of meaningless work which, in turn, leads to a meaningless life. That’s one of the many, many issues that lead to the creation of NOVA Lab. I, and many before me, have already elaborated plenty on NOVA Lab, but in general it strives to do three things.

  1. Inspire passion to learn, grow, and do something they care about
  2. Teach students how to benefit from self driven learning, as opposed to the curriculums of other classes
  3. Give student the opportunity to use that passion and self driven learning in class through design thinking, project planning, and general community collaboration

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I failed NOVA Lab. Or, perhaps a better way to phrase it is that I failed my expectations of NOVA Lab. I came into this class looking to be a leader, to create something interesting and new, but the only successes I found were in working under someone else’s direction in Make it 100. My own project, Overwatch Community Day, was a massive failure that I put a bullet in only a month or so after starting. Obviously, this was not an impressive showing, in my book at least. However, as you can see from the list, the part of NOVA Lab I failed was #3, in class projects. What about the other two?

Outside of NOVA Lab, my life has improved drastically, and I credit most of that to what I’ve learned from the class. In terms of hobbies, I’ve been able to use S.M.A.R.T. Goals to improve the way I practice all my hobbies. For instance, I’ve always had trouble with finding time to practice instruments, but by treating improvement as a project and planning accordingly, I’ve gone from stumbling to shredding. I’ve even gone beyond my original goals, writing, mixing, and playing my own music.

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On a more professional note, the passion I’ve cultivated in NOVA Lab has helped me in my career as well. For most of my life, I was going to be one of those people who simply majored in a high paying career and took a job they didn’t like to pay for things they want. However, this past year I decided life was simply too short, so I instead began pursuing a career in eSports production. I was completely lost. There’s not exactly a career path for a field that started after I was born. Nonetheless, as I began to apply what I’ve learned in NOVA Lab, things turned for the better. I found a mentor in the form of an audio production veteran named Healthcliff. I set the attainable and measurable goal of producing one match a week and I’ve managed to actually keep it. Most recently, I’ve begun producing another Super Smash Brothers Ultimate tournament in my school, with more organization than I’ve ever had before. I could list little improvements for says, but needless to say, this class has impacted every aspect of my life.

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Now, why do the improvements mentioned above matter? Well, let’s be honest with ourselves, school is temporary and so are the things it teaches. As many a disgruntled student has pointed out, they’re likely not going to need to know Calculus in 20 years. What’s really important are the skills you learn from the curriculum. From math, you learn logical, procedural thinking. From language arts, you learn deconstruction and creation. From NOVA Lab, you learn passion and purpose based learning. The only difference in NOVA Lab is that there’s no middleman. Ideas such as organization, motivation, and inspiration are taught directly, and then use them in your projects. You learn and then do, instead of the other way around, and that’s why I don’t consider myself a failure overall. To me, the projects are just like curriculum in other classes, important, but only for the lessons they impart. Therefore, if you successfully learn passion, purpose, and beyond before you even start, failure can be just as beneficial as success.

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To close, I just want to say this. The purpose of school is supposed to get kids ready for the real world, and it does this in many ways. The skills of logic and creation are both very important, along with everything else students may pick up. However, just as important are the benefits of passion we learn in NOVA Lab. Passion gives life meaning, makes every second of it happy and worth living, it gives the answer to the “Why?” that many kids lack, even though they already know “How?”

NOVA Lab is the best way I have ever experienced these lessons, and they’ve improved every meaningful part of my life. Let’s make sure other kids get to experience that too.

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