Saturday, November 9, 2013

Expeditionary Learning: Outward Bound

The charter school I worked at emphasized expeditionary learning. Unfamiliar with this type of education?  You can learn more about it at:

Part of expeditionary learning is getting the students learning outside of the classroom. Our school would take the middle school age students on a hike annually, sometimes more. Now, I normally really enjoy hiking. I grew up on camping trips, hiking around the national parks Of the western US. But hiking with a few hundred students . . . Not my idea of fun. I was worried about the risks of taking that many students out on a hike.

I will say that the times we went we had all teachers and many parent volunteers come with us. Most of the time, things went well and the students were safe. We tackled some challenging hikes, some peaks along the northern mountains of the sate. But there was that one time . . .

I was with a group of students heading up this steep trail and one of my students fell. She wasn't paying attention to the path, looking back and laughing with her friends, acting like a kid. One misstep and she slipped off the path, sliding and falling nearly 30 feet. All I could do was watch her fall. I have never felt more helpless.

I got on my radio and let the other teachers know as I slowly tried to climb down after her. A volunteer and another teacher found us and got down to her before I could. Thankfully, she was alright aside for some cuts and bruises. But I refused to hike that trail with students ever again and my reluctance to take students out hiking increased dramatically.

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