From the pinnacle of Mt. Mitchell, which I recently hiked one crisp sunny November day with family and friends from The Franklin School of Innovation, you can spot Table Rock and Hawksbill on the rim of the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area. Mt. Mitchell has long been a special place for me, both as a favorite family hike when I was a child, and as a teacher, having been the destination for hiking and camping with my students to start and end the year at the highest point east of the Mississippi River.
“I regard it as the foremost task of education to insure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an indefatigable spirit, tenacity in the pursuit, readiness for sensible self-denial, and above all, compassion.” -Kurt Hahn, Founder of Outward Bound
Now that I’ve had the opportunity to experience an Outward Bound Educator Initiative wilderness training, on that very Table Rock you can spy from Mt. Mitchell, I’m even more keen to take students into the wilderness, both literally and figuratively!
The power of experiential learning is simply this:
–challenging students to take risks, collaborate, think and act responsibly, creatively and critically, and as their best selves–
whether in the wilderness (navigating new territory with a compass and out-dated map, climbing, kayaking, tying knots, cooking for your crew…)
…or in the classroom (working in teams to solve problems, collecting and analyzing water quality data, drafting and redrafting historical fiction based upon a slave narrative recorded in the archives of the National Library of Congress…).
The key is for each individual to be “Crew, not Passenger,” to be present and truly engaged, self-reflective, and able to set authentic goals for personal and collective growth. In the classroom, as on an Outward Bound adventure,“By conquering their own challenges, participants discover their true potential and realize they are capable of more than they ever imagined.” (See: http://www.ncobs.org/about)
Expeditions, planned and carried out this year at each grade level, are vital to this self-discovery and authentic learning.
“There is more in us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less.“
– Kurt Hahn, Founder of Outward Bound
- Be Curious and Inquisitive
- Work Ethically
- Work Collaboratively
- Exhibit Leadership
- Be Persistent
- Take Action