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Back to School in Times of Uncertainty

A new school year has arrived, and with it the usual air of excitement and anticipation. For most, this year also brings a great deal of uncertainty. Some students will be thrust back into the crowded campuses they haven’t seen in over a year. For others, “back to school” would be more aptly called “back to Zoom.” Teachers continue to adapt to new settings, protocols, and obstacles they were likely never trained for. And though many more of us haven’t set foot in a classroom in years (or perhaps decades), we too face the unknown as the world continues to change around us. 

While we tend to focus on how uncertain, unprecedented, and sometimes overwhelming life has been due to Covid-19, the truth is that the future is always uncertain, and our lives are always unprecedented. We often notice this fact only in times of change or transition, such as the beginning of a new school year. But every day is just as new and uncharted as any other. Regardless of our situation in life, we are all moving forward into the unknown, discovering what comes next in our story.

Stories are central to what we do at Dowdle Studios. Our mission at Dowdle Studios is to inspire people to live engaged and meaningful lives. One of the most important ways that Eric does this is through telling stories about the people he’s met and the places he’s been. Whether it’s travelling to exotic destinations or chatting with regular people on the street, he strongly believes that we all have stories worth telling. (And anyone who’s spent some time with one of his puzzles knows how effective art can be at telling those stories). Our hope is that by sharing these stories we will encourage you to find, create, and share stories of your own, and that those stories will have a ripple effect on others.

When you think about it, stories are what education is all about, aren’t they? We learn the stories of writers, scientists, artists, and political leaders; stories of success and stories of failure; stories of heroes and stories of tyrants. We learn the stories of human nature, anatomy, and psychology; stories of the universe, from the largest galaxies to the smallest parts of an atom.

Education is not simply about the stories we have been told, but about the stories we will tell; the stories of our future. We learn stories of the past so we are better prepared to create new ones as we move forward through time together. Education is less about memorizing numbers and passing exams than it is about acquiring the knowledge, abilities, and resilience to create the best stories we can, both individually and collectively. 

If we think of education as being all about stories, then “back to school” can apply to all of us equally. Whether you are a freshman, a grad student, a teacher, or even if you never finished high school, we are all students in one way or another. So at the start of this new school year, let’s celebrate the stories of our past as we move forward with enthusiasm to create the stories of tomorrow.

These are our stories. What is your favorite story?


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