In conversations with St. Margaret’s parents, Upper School students and the professional community, PTF Parent Up Speaker Dave Evans shared his advice on how to help students act as “wayfinders” in reflecting on where they are in their lives and designing their way forward.
He made three separate presentations to St. Margaret’s parents, professional community and Upper School students last week in Hurlbut Theater.
Mr. Evans is co-founder of Electronic Arts and co-author of New York Times Bestseller Designing Your Life: How to Build a Joyful, Well-Lived Life. He also teaches a popular undergraduate course at Stanford titled “Designing Your Life” and runs the Life Design Lab there.
Mr. Evans’ practical advice for Upper School students included reframing the narrative around college, encouraging students to think about how to get the most “out” of college rather than just trying to “get in.” He highlighted the importance of engagement, which stems from connecting with mentors and working on projects that connect to the real world. Mr. Evans also placed a high value on curiosity, charging students to “curate your curiosity.” All of these approaches can be started now, before college, to get the most out of St. Margaret’s, shared Evans.
Mr. Evans provided tools to the professional community on how adults can reframe common questions to help young people pursue meaning and purpose (see examples below). He encouraged teachers to be the mentors students need and help “broker them into the world” by connecting them to people and projects and encouraging them to prototype their learning experiences by actually doing things.
For parents, Mr. Evans shattered a variety of myth messages students often receive and encouraged parents to craft a proper success narrative for college and beyond, finding the right balance between being too prescriptive or proscriptive.
Mr. Evans summed up his message of designing your life in four simple steps: “Get curious, talk to people, try stuff and tell your story.”
The slide decks from Mr. Evans’ presentations are available on the PTF Parent Up Speakers Series tile under Resources on mySMES.
Tips from Dave Evans for reframing common questions adults ask young people:
Instead of asking “What do you want to do with your life?” try:
• What are you enjoying learning or trying out?
• Who have you met whose life seems interesting?
• What’s going on in the world that upsets you?
• What grabs your attention?
• Tell me about something you finally figured out after lots of tries.
Instead of asking “What do you want to major in?” try:
• What do you want out of college beyond a degree?
• What are you hearing from happy and unhappy students?
• How are you anticipating changing your mind while in college?
• What would be a lovely surprise for you between 18 and 22?
• What myths are you testing out lately?