Andy Housiaux and Workshop students at a Buddhist temple standing as a group with a monk
April 29, 2022

The Deepest End

A Workshop student explores the unexpected lessons of Buddhism
by Loulou ’22

I often coasted through learning. Seamlessly gliding just slightly above mediocrity until I found something that really interested me. Once I identified an interest, I worked myself to the bone and then got discouraged by the final grade of a B+.

For most of my life as a student, I felt as if I was a positive addition to the classroom, but not a necessary one. Once I made it to Andover, Niche’s number one private boarding school in the U.S., my inspiration burnt out for a couple of years. The college application process made me look back at my high school career with regret that I didn’t get better grades, and I've been foolishly attempting to make up for it for nine sleepless months. After our recent spring break, I felt done with school.

The Workshop changed my point of view. I am both interested in every resource we've been given and, for the first time in my school career, inspired to seize every experience we've had throughout the term. Is this uncool? Or has school just become cool?

A month into the workshop, the novelty has not faded. In the temples we've visited, we've been shown a new kind of generosity and humility. I have acknowledged that my enrollment in this high school didn’t entitle me to any intellect I don't have to work for, and I've had to work harder in this ungraded term than any term before.

Now in the more work-driven aspect of the Workshop, I have found myself disproving my own belief that deadlines, close monitoring, and grades were the only route toward learning. I am astonished that we have made such great progress without the traditional pressure of an institution like Andover.

It's wonderful to see the members of my group go above and beyond for a common, unselfish goal…so much so that the idea of telling them I didn’t do my singular assigned task would have been heartbreaking. We have been referring to this phenomenon as “relational accountability,” a new phrase and feeling that motivated me to do some of my most thoughtful and timely work.

For my whole life, I believed I was the only person I was letting down by not doing my homework. No one else cared, and my teacher wouldn't have to read a poorly researched paper about the Seven Years War. Ninety percent of the time, the grade was the only part of the class I really cared about.

Now I care about something else. I have learned a lot about Buddhism throughout the Workshop, but I have learned even more about interpersonal relations, motivation, and respect.

The "Listening to Buddhists in Our Backyard" group includes Olivia ’22, Taylor ’22, Haruka ’22, Loulou ’22, Lesley ’22, and Melissa ’22.

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*THE WORKSHOP

Each spring term, the Workshop welcomes 20 seniors to this interdisciplinary, project-based course. With an eye toward reimagining what school can be, the Workshop is the senior’s onlyacademic commitment for the entire term. Instead of splitting their time and attention into units of distinct courses and fields of study, they work closely with peers, faculty, and community and global partners on a series of linked, interdisciplinary projects that revolve around a single theme. Within a chosen theme, students explore areas of personal interest. This year's theme is Experiments in Education.

During the first few weeks of the term, students are working on one of four faculty-led projects. We will be featuring blog posts by students during this time.

  • Historiography (led by Chris Jones)
  • Listening to Buddhists in Our Backyard (led by Andy Housiaux)
  • Andover’s CAMD Scholars Program: Advancing DEIJ Teaching, Learning, and Community Outcomes (led by Corrie Martin)
  • Bias (led by Nicholas Zufelt)

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Categories: The Workshop, Featured

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