Student From Las Lomas Answers Question: What is a Good Education?

Published in The Pillar, Athenian’s student newspaper, May 2015

by Irena Volkov ’16

Last month, Las Lomas High School senior Kevin Masukawa ’15 sat in Athenian’s Plato class to find data for his senior project on what a “good education” means to students and families.

Masukawa’s goal was to find what makes private school education different from public school education and what the public school system can learn from schools such as Athenian.

“My initial question was what defines a good education and what is our Acalanes Union District doing to achieve this definition,” Masukawa said. “It was how can we make the Los Lomas and Acalanes Union districts better.”

Masukawa contacted around five schools in the area, including Athenian, De La Salle, and Carondelet, but of the schools he contacted, only Athenian permitted Masukawa to visit. Masukawa was even able to interview Gabe Del Real, the Dean of Upper School Curriculum and Humanities Teacher.

“I think this project is great, which is one reason why I allowed him to visit the school,” Del Real said. “In some ways I think that he actually got more than he was expecting.”

Del Real pushed Masukawa in defining what a good education is by first making him consider what “good” means.

“A good education means to lead someone from one way of being to another way of being,” Del Real said. “I think that a good education is one that has a clear vision of human nature, and a true vision of human nature.”

Both Del Real and Masukawa agreed that Athenian attracts the differences in its students, while public schools solely look at the similarities in students.

“In public school you have a lot of standards,” Masukawa said. “You always have things you can and cannot do, so what I was looking for was ideas to make a curriculum that makes better and stronger students who become one with the information they learn.”

Athenian achieves giving students a good education because, as Dyke Brown envisioned, Athenian has an interdisciplinary approach to education.

The vision of Dyke Brown’s mandala was to look at the human being as a unified whole, as opposed to a composition of parts.

“We have capabilities that fall in line with the powers of the soul, which are emotions, intellect, and free will,” Del Real said. “So a good education has to be able to lead well all of those, for lack of a better term, ‘parts’ of the human soul and body; if you take a look at Dyke Brown’s mandala, that’s exactly what he has.”

Masukawa took this information to heart and concluded that a good education is one that fulfills one’s own definition of a good education.

“Different students prosper in different environments differently,” Masukawa said. “Athenian is unique because it encourages individual expressions through experiences such as AWE.”