Losing Ourselves

Video Posted on Updated on

How an expectation for perfection and a college-geared definition of success has prevented us from using high school as a time to figure out what we love and who we are.


21 thoughts on “Losing Ourselves

    Stanley B. Garbus, MD, MPH said:
    June 28, 2014 at 7:28 AM

    Rachel, fantastic job — I LOVED IT!! You are great!


    Rachel H said:
    August 10, 2014 at 3:29 PM

    This is absolutely astounding. I am blown away by how much work you put into this, and it really shows! You were able to provide so much enlightening insight into a topic so serious that has needed to be explored for a while now. I’m in love with the final result! Thank you so much!!! Love you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Philip Cho said:
    November 9, 2014 at 1:58 AM

    Thank you very much for such an awesome documentary!


    dintersmith said:
    November 24, 2014 at 8:09 AM

    Really amazing work, Rachel. It was so powerful. I’ve already forwarded it to all of my friends within the Stanford School of Education, as well as a bunch of other people who work on education-related issues. Your work is really moving. What grade did you get on it? (JUST KIDDING!!!).

    Liked by 1 person

    Watch this. Right now. | GHS Innovation Lab said:
    November 25, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    […] produced by a senior named Rachel Wolfe over at Scarsdale High School in Scarsdale, NY. Her original blog post can be found here. If you’re still wondering why Innovation Lab is necessary, almost every reason is mentioned […]


    andrewfrishman said:
    December 14, 2014 at 6:19 AM

    Thank you for creating this video. It resonates with the work that we do at Big Picture Learning (www.bigpicture.org) to try to reimagine what the learning process both in and out of school can be. Here’s a quick video about the design criteria that we consider – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K96c-TGnSf4

    And here’s more about the BPL Approach – http://www.bigpicture.org/schools/ and check out these videos – https://www.teachingchannel.org/big-picture-video-library-bpl


    ChickenDream said:
    January 10, 2015 at 9:49 AM

    Beautifully crafted! Thank you, Rachel.


    […] Wolfe made this wonderful 30-minute documentary called “Losing […]


    Judy Burgenbauch said:
    August 2, 2015 at 9:50 AM

    That is the inspiration I needed to go back into my classroom this fall.

    Liked by 1 person

    Anonymous said:
    August 2, 2015 at 10:08 AM

    As a nyc educator your film brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing this truth with us and pursuing your passions.

    Liked by 1 person

    Lloyd Lofthouse said:
    August 2, 2015 at 5:40 PM
    diljeetbhachu said:
    August 3, 2015 at 6:38 AM

    Rachel, well done – it’s so inspiring to hear all of these messages coming from young learners themselves, as well as the educators’ perspectives. There is a real need for a shift in how we approach education, what its purpose is, essentially what our wider purpose in life is – I think society has a lot to learn from your film.

    Liked by 1 person

    toesinthedirt said:
    August 4, 2015 at 12:42 PM

    So glad you did this project. I got the feeling that the “for” side in the debate desperately wanted their best arguments to be toppled. But even the “against” side had also been indoctrinated and did not know enough appropriate language or have access to sufficient research to explain their truths. Also, debate is an academic, adversarial, verbal, polarizing format, where certain ideas (e.g. prove that mothers love their children) cannot be adequately addressed.
    As a former homeschool mom (now substitute teacher), I am so sad about the changes in my children’s thinking that came to be after they entered public school. This included a switch to performing under pressure, according to someone else’s (narrower and mass produced) plan, and for scores and grades. Also no time to read for pleasure (and a dramatic decrease in quantity of reading). The fact that my youngest is unaware as yet of these institutional values is hopeful, but I too am guilty of starting to try to keep him “on top” and “on track” academically. Thanks for the reminder of the fallout of that mentality. I hope that as a public school teacher I can continue to contribute to its subversion. Meanwhile, as my kids are dual citizens, they have the option of going to Canadian universities, which have (for now) a different admissions model.
    Oh, and recommended reading: “The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to quit school and get a real life and education” by Grace Llewellyn. Still a classic.


    woodsgal said:
    August 16, 2015 at 11:15 AM

    Reblogged this on playful living blog and commented:
    Play = fun + learning
    This blog from a high school senior documents well that need for exploration and creativity in school. It may make better humans!


    Gary said:
    October 1, 2015 at 12:37 AM

    This was an excellent documentary! It really correlates with the part of the “Most Likely to Succeed” feature-length documentary about how public education should be.

    Are you aware the companion book, “Most Likely to Succeed” published in August 2015, refers to your video on page 47, which is how I came here to view it? I believe you will receive a lot more visitor and positive comments!


    Holly Switzer said:
    October 7, 2015 at 2:43 PM

    This Is amazing rachel. You really put so much into this to make it so beautiful. I can actually fell what you are speaking of.


    Elisabeth Kashner said:
    December 5, 2015 at 7:30 PM

    Just so you know — it gets better. You can absolutely build yourself a rewarding life after SHS once you learn how to follow your interests. It takes some work, because you have to discover your core value system and then experiment to find a path that allows you to do what you love. It also take courage, because you might find that you have to move away from your comfort zone, take risks, and embrace uncertainty. And you’ll face trade-offs too – who doesn’t? But the choices will be yours to make.

    I love what I do, but it sure wasn’t easy – or straightforward – to get here. I’m an expert on Exchange-Traded Funds, which have revolutionized investing by making institutional quality investment portfolios dirt cheap and available to anyone with a brokerage account. But I started out as a teacher – first preschool and then 4th grade.

    Why teaching? I felt like I needed to give something back to the world, recognizing the incredible privilege I’d benefited from, and I also had NO CLUE what I really wanted to do with myself, even after 4 years at college and a gap year. It turns out that teaching wasn’t a great fit for me. More to the point, I wasn’t at all prepared to figure out what I actually wanted to do.

    I set out to explore. I made my way through derivatives trading, staying at home with my 3 kids, and investment strategy before I wandered into my current position. Now I get to design analytical tools, manage a team of like-minded analysts, and help investors find fair deals. This is not usual in the financial services industry. I get to experiment, tinker, and continually improve and expand my product.

    Oh, and by the way, I don’t look for brand-name diplomas when I’m hiring. I look for motivation, interest, writing skills, and collegiality. I give applicants an assignment that’s representative of the job responsibilities, and gauge their suitability by their performance on it. This approach has worked beautifully. My team is amazing.

    I’ve chosen to live in Berkeley, CA, and to raise my kids in a community that values kindness and mutual support. It’s such a relief – though it’s hardly perfect.

    Good luck to you in discovering your own interests and path. There’s a big, fascinating world out there that needs your passion, talent, and dedication. Go figure out how best you can contribute.


    Elisabeth Kashner, CFA
    SHS ’84
    Brown University ’89


      samwsng said:
      January 20, 2016 at 8:14 AM

      Thanks you so much for sharing this meaningful video, I think many successful people in the world have a common characteristic which is to follow their passion, not to get a flying color in their school exam….~~


    What are we doing? | ma blog said:
    August 25, 2016 at 2:53 AM

    […] Losing Ourselves […]


    […] Ironically, a student broke from the usual system to create this simple, effective video illustrating the situation from a high school student’s perspective. The video has no special effects or magic. Anyone could have made it. She did. Here’s the link to her blog. […]


    heron chris said:
    March 27, 2017 at 5:37 AM

    Rachel, we should talk, we are working on this problem! We have a solution!


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