An Interview with Ward Malliard, Teacher, Educator, and Founder of Mount Madonna Center in Santa Cruz, California
"You don't teach curiosity, but you create the context in which it's important to show up. Because staying curious is the best way to learn, it's the best way for self-development, and curiosity is connected with compassion. When you judge people there's no compassion in it, but when you're curious about people there's a possibility of understanding who they are." – Ward Malliard
Today I got a chance to talk to Ward Malliard. Malliard is part teacher, part scholar, part general, part coach, and part subversive, all in the name of educating not just tomorrow’s students, but tomorrow’s citizens.
He is a teacher not just by profession, but perhaps by archetype; a learned man steeped in the theories and art of pedagogy. It’s my personal belief that a man of his mind and intellect should be in the upper echelons of the educational system, but instead he has chosen to affect change at the most leveraged part of the system, directly with the students.
Speaking of—his former students have gone on to become doctors, lawyers, educators, leading global scientists, and powerful change agents in various social arenas. In addition to his former students, one of hiscurrent students has become a Gates scholar, an academic grant that pays for college, graduate school, and a post-graduate degree.
A few days ago I was privileged enough to tag along with Malliard and his senior high school class from Mount Madonna School in Santa Cruz, California, a class of just 15 students. Over the course of his career in teaching, Malliard’s students have interviewed leading global thinkers and world leaders across several continents, and during this trip alone, his class has interviewed Timothy Roemer, U.S. Ambassador to India, Mani Shankar Aiyar, a member of the upper house of parliament, Samdong Rinpoche, the Prime Minister of the Tibetan Government in Exile, Rinchen Kandho, head of the Tibetan Nuns Project, and His Holiness, The 14th Dalai Lama. His students were poised, intelligent, and mature, while at the same time they managed to retain the youth and innocence of adolescence.
As the son of United States Congressman, he “went over the wall,” as he says, but never strayed too far from his upbringing. He is driven by political awareness and social service, yet at the root of it all is his desire to do good in the world and “to be on a journey that I don't know how it’s going to turn out.”