Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Lessons from Officer Candidate School

A relative of mine just completed his first six weeks of Officer Candidate School (OCS).

I found his experience to be very interesting.

First, I was happy that my relative was academically prepared for the rigor of the school. Good study habits that allowed him to range from detailed memorization to big picture problem solving supported his success. Students who struggled with academics had a more difficult time or didn't make it through the six week training.

Next, my relative is in good shape. Thanks to a large number of terrific coaches throughout his life as well as access to healthy activity, nutritious food, and good medical care, my relative was able to endure the grueling physical expectations. In fact, he found some of the challenges to be exciting and adventurous.

Leadership skills were paramount during this training. My relative had to learn and demonstrate strong leadership throughout the training.

As I traveled this six-week OCS journey with my relative, I thought a lot about the value of intense training like this. In fact, during my relative's experience, he noted that a well-known tech entrepreneur had been at the camp to undergo a similar training recently. I wonder if all of our twenty-something children should have the chance to attend a deep, challenging leadership training like this, and then once the training is done, they could choose to serve in the military or another path of service to our country such as working in hospitals, at schools, with community organizations, or at our National Parks.

Further, I wondered about how we, as teachers, are preparing our students for paths of success. Are we preparing them for the academic rigor that most jobs demand today? Are we preparing them for the physical fitness requirements and health expectations needed to do good work? Are we giving students the chance to lead and develop with collaboration/teamwork skills and knowledge?

Throughout the six weeks of my relative's journey, I was so thankful for all of his teachers, family members, coaches, neighbors, and friends who have contributed to his strength and direction. He could not have passed without the care and attention of so many throughout his life.

As educators, we have to be mindful of the real-time goals in front of our students to pass tests, complete projects, and learn standards, and we have to be even more mindful of the holistic, long-term goals of supporting confident, self-aware students who are able to meet the expectations of academic rigor, health/wellness, and the leadership/teamwork required to live a positive, happy life.