Take charge of your own education!

Living Wisdom International Online High School

Ananda Living Wisdom Online High School is entering its third year in the fall of 2020. It is a continuation of a pilot program that was called The Education for Life Online High School. It is staffed by Education for Life certified teachers who have expertise in their area of study as well as a passion for teaching. The school mirrors our residential high schools with an emphasis on the four themes of service, adventure, self-discovery, and personal excellence

Join us on our online venture and explore a balanced, innovative & creative way of learning!

Why Join Us?

  • Broaden your horizons by connecting online via multimedia platforms with like-minded teens from around the world, current students come from Italy, India, Iran and the United States
  • Study in small, interactive groups (average 5-6 students per class)
  • Balance and personalize the normal academic curriculum with activities like service projects and personal expertise
  • Participate in annual Service Adventures and earn the money to finance these trips
  • Obtain an accredited high school diploma that can be used to attend colleges in any country
  • Learn from teachers who are trained in the Education for Life approach 
  • Take advantage of an individualized approach that accommodates your interests, strengths and challenges

Service

Become Part of the Solution

Along with the teenager’s growing awareness of larger realities comes the realization that our planet is filled with problems such as wars, lack of food and water, and homelessness. Left unaddressed, this realization can easily lead to cynicism and a rejection of the adult society that allows these conditions to exist. A key element of a high school curriculum is to provide opportunities for students to get involved in solving these problems. On a local level our students have helped at places like animal shelters, homes for the elderly, and preschools that serve special needs children. Farther afield, our students have helped at orphanages in Mexico, protected endangered Sea Turtles, and attended an international conference on Climate Change and Consciousness.

Adventure

Explore Larger Realities

One of the biggest impulses for teenagers is proving to themselves and others that they are no longer children. In essence this compulsion is healthy and appropriate, though usually poorly managed by modern society. When we as adults fail to provide constructive ways of supporting this drive toward expansion, it is all too common for teens to grasp at the most superficial badges of adulthood: drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, premature sex, etc. Unfortunately, these activities often lead to problems that can take years to heal. One of the ways our high schools meet the need to expand is through our Adventure Trips that have taken us to such places as India, South Africa, Mexico, and this coming year to the Findhorn Community in Scotland.

Pre-COVID-19, every year our high school students embark on a 2-week self-financed adventure trip centered around serving the local community. Past locations include Hong Kong, Panama, Costa Rica, Hawaii, Quebec, Nepal, South Africa, Peru, Mexico, India, Italy, Slovenia & Scotland. We are currently exploring alternative options to explore adventure online & at home.

An-Out-of-the-Box Experience

By Shanti Pollacek,

Sophomore year at Living Wisdom School

A school that takes two weeks out of the year to go traveling is extremely rare and many people don’t understand the incredible learning experiences that happen during these trips. The service adventure trips offer education from experience rather than from a teacher or a textbook. Here is a look into my personal experience from this past trip to an orphanage in Mexico and what I learned.

1)   Cultural Experience

Being immersed in the Mexican culture for two weeks was beyond different from the lifestyle I was used to. Their food, their language, their customs, their beliefs and their qualities were all different from that in California. I found it incredibly humbling to be in a position where I knew nothing. At the orphanage, we did everything they did: we ate with them in a dining hall, cleaned and cooked with them for every meal, did chores every day at 5:30 a.m., went to mass with them, played with them, and learned how to put ourselves in their shoes. Many of them have gone through a lot in their life and learning their backgrounds was very eye-opening for me.

2)   Spanish Immersion

I have been taking high school Spanish for the past two years and before the trip, I had learned the basics though I hadn’t yet wrapped my mind around the flow of the language. I had always been told that if you wanted to learn a language, then emersion was the best way to learn. I always thought that I could just study, study, study and bam I would speak it. However, I found that this was not the case. At first it was exhausting trying to understand the language and constantly try to recall words to communicate. Yet as the days went on, I began to understand the language and my ears could recognize whether something was said right or not. By the end of the trip, I could have a basic conversation with the kids. We would talk about our favorite animal, song, movie, color, and book as well as where we had traveled and what we liked to do. Personally, I felt like I learned more in those two weeks than in all my years of studying Spanish. Emersion is definitely the way to learn a language.

3)   Learning Independence

I have always lived with my parents and have never gone to a boarding school or lived with friends. This trip was good for me as it helped me strengthen my independence and self-reliance. I had to manage my time, keep up with my homework, take care of myself, recognize when I needed space and speak up for myself. The teachers were there for us whenever we needed them, though it is still different than having your parents there.

4) Creating Harmony

At the orphanage, all of the students as well as one of our teachers all stayed in a room together. For nearly the entire trip we were with people non-stop. Sometimes, people got irritable or would have minor conflicts with each other. We all desired harmony during the trip, so when these things happened, we had to act maturely and resolve these conflicts on our own. I had one of these experiences and we were able to directly confront each other and explain what we each needed and how to resolve the situation. For the rest of the trip, we were fine. It was a very valuable experience for me as I realized how simple resolutions could be by being clear and direct.

5)   Respect For a Different Religion

This year, we had a section of our history class where we studied all of the religions and their similarities and differences. At the orphanage, everyone is strictly Catholic. I had had different perceptions towards Catholicism before the trip than when I actually experienced it. After the trip, I had a real respect for the religion even though I personally have different beliefs. We also had to learn a few prayers in Spanish and recite them each day before each meal and before bed. I think being able to live like someone else for a few weeks can help you learn a lot about yourself and what you relate to.

6)   Inspiration to Help the World

During the trip, I witnessed some very poor people, suffering people, sad people, dying animals, dirty areas and all sorts of scenes that make your heart want to reach out and help them. I got inspired to continue helping people in need. So far, I have fundraised $600 towards the Heifer Foundation, which gives livestock to people in need and gives them a way to feed and support themselves. I now have a desire to help children around the world. There was a girl at the orphanage named Lucerito who I made a special connection with. She had had a very challenging life with both her parents having passed. Often times, she was sad or lonely and I realized that no matter what people go through, being loved cures any hardship. I tried to treat her like a younger sister and now we are pen pals. Reaching out to children can mean the world to them.

Self-Discovery

Strengthen Life Skills that Support Success and Well-Being

Often in high school there is a lot of stress around learning material that will be of little use later in life. There are however, many Life Skills that can be developed at this age that will have a large impact on future success and well-being. At a Living Wisdom High School students are encouraged to focus on such skills as Developing Concentration, Choosing Happiness, Cultivating Courage, and Living Truth. In developing these skills, teens realize that their possibilities for growth and self-improvement are endless.

Currently, the Living Wisdom International Online High School and the Ananda Living Wisdom High School in Palo Alto have in common a self-discovery class called Empowered Hearts.  The class meets 5 mornings a week and have guest speakers on a variety of topics.  The overall goal is to introduce the students to practical ways to open and empower themselves so they can feel confident to take their knowledge into the world in a practical way.  We have had classes in Altruism, Environmentalism, Global awareness, Empathy, Peace and Social Justice, gratitude, and humility.  The classes are hands-on and experimental and include class discussion, role-playing, journaling, personal growth exercises, and a variety of creative and artistic ways to get in touch with our inner selves.

“I have seen students grow, stretch, question, and share in ways I wouldn’t have expected in such a short time. Next term our hope is to take the information we have learned, pick a specific topic that calls to each student, and have them turn this knowledge into the beginnings of a practical, hands-on project.  What that looks like will be different for each student.” — Kathy Rodrigue, Living Wisdom International Online High School teacher

Currently, the Living Wisdom International Online High School and the Ananda Living Wisdom High School in Palo Alto have in common a self-discovery class called Empowered Hearts.  The class meets 5 mornings a week and have guest speakers on a variety of topics.  The overall goal is to introduce the students to practical ways to open and empower themselves so they can feel confident to take their knowledge into the world in a practical way.  We have had classes in Altruism, Environmentalism, Global awareness, Empathy, Peace and Social Justice, gratitude, and humility.  The classes are hands-on and experimental and include class discussion, role-playing, journaling, personal growth exercises, and a variety of creative and artistic ways to get in touch with our inner selves.

“I have seen students grow, stretch, question, and share in ways I wouldn’t have expected in such a short time. Next term our hope is to take the information we have learned, pick a specific topic that calls to each student, and have them turn this knowledge into the beginnings of a practical, hands-on project.  What that looks like will be different for each student.” — Kathy Rodrigue, Living Wisdom International Online High School teacher

Personal Excellence

Apply Effort and Perseverance to a Chosen Discipline

Finally, we come to making sure that each teenager puts in the effort to attain a level of excellence in some part of life. Everyone has different talents, and it should be the role of the high school to help students identify these areas of interest and then provide the support to develop these talents. In this way, each teen can establish a meaningful basis for self-confidence and respect, tools that are essential in contending with the strong currents of peer pressure that they experience. The possibilities are as varied as the students and have included everything from singing, to cooking, to mathematics, to caring for animals.

Alumni and Online Student Testimonials

Graduates from our school have continued to pursue their passions after graduation. Those who chose to further their education were accepted at the following colleges and universities: UC Merced, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara, Mills College, Berea College, Evergreen, Occidental, St Mary’s, Lewis and Clark, Humboldt State, Reed, Linfield, Whitman, Puget Sound, Maharishi University of Management, Ithaca College, and many more. (view alumni page)

“The online high school is one of the best schools. This school teaches us how to really live our life and how to enjoy it, besides that, it also teaches us the theory subjects. For me it is an angel. This school is filled with love, calmness, and friendship. All of the teachers are lovely, and they are so nice. I haven’t been sad in this school even once. Its one of the best experiences i had as an online student. They care for their children. I think of my teachers as my best friends who teach me new things everyday. I try to be a better person in my life every single day, and this is all because of them.”  – M.M. high school student

Academics

Education for Life (EFL) is based on a balanced development of the four Tools of Maturity: the body, feelings, will, and intellect. In contrast, mainstream education with its one-pointed focus on obtaining higher test scores has increasingly emphasized the training of intellect at the expense of activities that promote growth in the other areas. It is interesting then to compare the results of these two very different approaches.

Education for Life and Testing
While we do not advocate the testing of young children, older students often express a healthy interest in knowing how they are doing academically in relation to others their age. When the EFL high school near Nevada City, California applied for accreditation in 2005, a part of the process entailed giving the students a nationally recognized, standardized test. The results have been remarkable, though not unexpected for those who are familiar with recent educational studies. In every year the students as a group have averaged in the top 10% of schools nationwide, even reaching the top 1% on one occasion. SAT scores have been equally impressive with the average EFL student scoring 1717 as compared to a national average of around 1500. (for greater detail click here.) How can EFL students compare so well with elite academic schools when our focus includes large amounts of time directed toward drama and music, games and outdoor activities, service projects and travel? Current educational research provides some valuable insights.

The Body and the Intellect
It seems obvious that a healthy body provides the foundation for a healthy intellect. Disease, low energy, stress, and a lack of cleanliness and order can all seriously undermine the ability to focus mentally. This relationship is clearly demonstrated in a study done in 2013 by The National Academy of Sciences.

State-mandated academic achievement testing has had the unintended consequence of reducing opportunities for children to be physically active during the school day and beyond…. Yet little evidence supports the notion that more time allocated to subject matter will translate into better test scores. Indeed, 11 of 14 correlational studies of physical activity during the school day demonstrate a positive relationship to academic performance. Overall, a rapidly growing body of work suggests that time spent engaged in physical activity is related not only to a healthier body but also to a healthier mind.

Feelings and the Intellect
Similarly, the ability to work constructively with one’s feelings can be a tremendous help when trying to maintain mental focus in the face of interpersonal tensions or inner turmoil. The advent of the term “Emotional Intelligence” in 1995, produced a wave of research authenticating the importance of social and emotional growth. A key report by J. Payton et al looked at an array of data taken from 317 studies involving 324,303 students. Their conclusion follows.

SEL [Social and Emotional Learning] programming improved students’ academic performance by 11 to 17 percentile points across the three reviews, indicating that they offer students a practical educational benefit…. Although some educators argue against implementing this type of holistic programming because it takes valuable time away from core academic material, our findings suggest that SEL programming not only does not detract from academic performance but actually increases students’ performance on standardized tests and grades”.

Will and the Intellect
The connection between the will and intellect is evident in the value of such qualities as perseverance, concentration, and initiative. In her book “The Willpower Instinct”, Stanford University psychologist Kelly McGonigal Ph.D surveyed the results of over 200 studies in this area.

People who have strong willpower are better off – i.e. better control of their attention, emotions, and actions. They are happier and healthier. Their relationships are more satisfying and last longer. They make more money and go further in their careers. They are better able to manage stress, deal with conflict, and overcome adversity. They live longer. Self-control is a better predictor of academic success than IQ. It’s a stronger determinant of effective leadership than charisma. It’s more important for marital harmony than empathy.

Conclusion and Prediction
It may be taking awhile, but educators are gradually acknowledging that a one-sided emphasis on the intellect is counterproductive. Even the “winners” of this approach are adversely affected. In November of 2011, NBC interviewed an administrator at Peking University High School in Shanghai, the top school worldwide as measured by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, but also a school where students put in 12 hours of study per day including weekends. “Test taking is damaging to students’ creativity, critical thinking skills and, in general, China’s ability to compete in the world. It can make students very narrow-minded. In the 21st century, China needs the creative types its education system isn’t producing.”

For over 40 years, Education for Life has pioneered an approach that emphasizes cultivating the intellect in conjunction with the body, feelings, and will. Modern research shows that the future of education around the world lies with schools that can successfully implement this kind of integrated, holistic approach.

Test Score Averages 2004-2019 (Living Wisdom High School

Scholastic Aptitude Test Scores
  EFL Averages   National Averages
Language Arts        640        533
Mathematics        608        527
Total      1248      1060

Standardized Testing Student Percentile Averages

IOWA Test of Educational Development

EFL High School Average Student Percentile
Vocabulary 91
Reading Comprehension 92
Language 91
Math Concepts & Problems 91
Computation 83
Total Percentile 91

International Online High School Curriculum

Classes

Empowered Heart: A series of segments that focus on themes that prepare students to help the world such as empathy, humility, critical thinking, and restorative justice

Performing Arts: Producing and Performing Podcasts on the Internet

Chinese: Introduction to Chinese language and culture

US History: An Experiment in Democracy and Human Rights

Anatomy: Understanding how your body works and how to keep it health

Self-Expression & Communication: Literature and Composition

Tea Time: a chance to play together

Math: Individual 1-on-1 tutoring at student’s own pace & level

Advising: Co-Curricular & Life Skills

  • Co-Curricular includes Service Projects, Personal Expertise, Reading, Physical Exercise, and Earning Tuition
  • Life Skills include Working with Others, Finding Peace, Choosing Happiness

Typical Student Week

Math: 1 hour online with an individual tutor, with 2-3 hours of homework

Literature & Composition: 2.5 hours online with 3-4 hours of homework

History and/or Science: 2.5 hours online with 2-3 hours of homework

Foreign Language: 2.5 hours online with 1-2 hours of homework

Arts: 2 hours online with about 2 hours of homework

Personal Advising: 1 hour online with personal advisor to go over extra-curricular activities and personal well-being

Personal Growth: 2.5 hours with about 1 hour of homework

Independent Study: 5 hours of personal expertise/independent study monitored by advisor

Service Projects: 3 hours monitored by advisor

Physical Exercise: 5 hours monitored by advisor

Earning Money: 3-5 hours to finance Service Adventure trips