What is considered a valuable and purposeful life in America? How has that definition changed throughout the nation's history? These are the types of questions that students in the Upper School English course The Good Life examine by exploring the works of various American authors and analyzing what those works reflect about society's feelings on "goodness." Their teacher, McDonogh's Director of Innovation and Learning Kevin Costa, didn't want his students to simply stop there, so he tasked them with identifying, researching, and proposing solutions to contemporary problems they believe hinder "the good life" in America today.
It is a unique project that requires students to transfer the critical reading and thinking skills that they have honed over the course of the semester and apply them to a real-world issue in order to find actionable solutions. By requiring students to communicate effectively, form questions and solve problems, and think for the good of communities both local and global, the project hits on all three of tenets of McDonogh's LifeReady academic plan.
From eating disorders and body image issues to the effects of standardized testing on the educational system, students focused on a wide range of issues they feel adversely affect American society. On Monday, May 20, they presented their research and proposed well-thought-out, nuanced solutions to their problems to classmates and faculty members during a poster session in the Mullan boardroom. The presentations led to lively, thought-provoking discussions that furthered everyone's understanding of the issues, which is the essence of LifeReady learning.