Inside Areté Interview Series

Who is Areté?

Teacher Mentoring A Senior

Jeffrey, Areté Senior ’20

How long have you been at Areté? ​Since November 2018 (about 1 1/2 years).   

How does your education make your life better?  I love learning. My mind is constantly soaking in everything possible. I’m always trying to integrate the material. Learning about various schools of thought helps me understand and organize the information. I like the education at Areté because they emphasized learning about different philosophical perspectives especially in the great ideas classes. I really liked being asked about my points of view in the process as well as learning how my peers incorporated their own views as well. I feel I’ve made friends at school and discussing these issues with them in class allowed me to appreciate them in more depth. 

What is your favorite philosopher, philosophical question or thought experiment? ​I really dig Immanuel Kant and a priori knowledge. It challenges my mind to navigate Kant’s perspectives, making me delve into the metaphysical. I like exploring the abstract.   

What was your last or favorite Areté senior master thesis about? My master thesis is about autism. The way we conceptualize autism deeply matters to the creation of policy and the treatment of people with autism. What we understand to be autism is influenced by how we communicate about it and knowledge we create in our articulations.  

What is your thesis really about? The way epistemic communities construct autism impacts and transforms autism. Basically, the construction of autism can impact treatments, policy, scholarship, and the life of people with autism. 

What was your favorite moment at Areté? I loved the trip we went on together at the beginning of this school year. It was fun and I felt heard and included. 

How are you different now from a few years ago? I am more comfortable and confident. I feel that I finally have friends to go to lunch with and who are sincerely interested in my thoughts and opinions. The way I need to communicate is tedious and time consuming and both the teachers and students found ways to include me in class discussions and social experiences.   

Is there anything you are passionate about that you want to do as a career or in your life? Yes, I’m passionate about teaching people about my abilities and to correct the misconceptions of many school administrators about autism.  

I want to educate the general population about autism and advocate for myself and others who are misunderstood or mistreated. 

Would you recommend Areté to other students and why? Absolutely! The faculty is interested in teaching and helping each student to learn. That means if the student can’t learn from the model they are using, then they will work with the student until they figure out how the student can understand the material being taught. The focus of Areté is to help each student gain insight and true mastery of the material. This is what appealed to me the most when we were considering this school for me. In fact the answer I gave in my written application played out exactly as I had hoped.  

 The ethos behind the approach to education at Areté is what interests me most.  

Probably when Jim talked about breaking the traditional mold concerning education; trying to have students not just regurgitate information but possess knowledge, is when I turned on to Areté. The kids all seem nice and smart, and open minded to someone with a few differences, like me. 

If you could learn or do anything now or in the future (after high school), what would it be? It’s very important to me that I continue to interact with the people I met at Areté. I know we are all attending different schools but I am hoping we make the effort to stay connected. I have many aspirations for after high school. I will continue to work towards the ability to live independently. As you all know, in addition to autism I struggle with seizures and severe language impairment. I believe that once I’m able to communicate without assistance I will be able to advocate for my needs and for others who struggle to be heard due to physical or neurological challenges in a meaningful manner. I hope to change the model of warehousing those children with learning differences to one of full inclusion. The education authorities need to determine what assistance is needed and give the students who need assistance an aide who is properly trained.  I hope to be able to use my gift of high intelligence to make the world a kinder, friendlier, and safer place to live.    

What do you like to do when you have free time? I like to wander off into deep philosophical thoughts. I also like to walk around the neighborhood and try to integrate all the information bombarding me at the same time into useful interesting snippets of information. I also like to swim, shoot some hoops and improve my golf swings to one day be able to play in a father-son tournament. 

What is an interesting fact about you? I’m frequently cracking jokes in my mind in order to make my day stay fun and upbeat.  

What are you looking forward to most? I’m not sure. Change is always difficult for me and this living in isolation and social distancing has been a bummer. I guess I’m looking forward to socializing without restrictions. 

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