[Written several years ago when Will Sutherland purchased his two traditional boats and began using them to teach various courses in the Channel.]
"Your proposal is very exciting. It's clear (or should be) that young kids aren't meant to sit in classrooms and libraries all day, that they learn best by doing. Certainly I've seen this with my own children. Yet we're stuck with a one-size-fits-all system everywhere that just isn't serving them. Something like this offers real hope...."
"But thinking about the DNA and Ethos and your "QBE Education Study At Sea" project, it seems to me that the DNA could be boiled down to three things, two of which you already have in here:
First, growth through forcing you to confront and overcome your fears and/or sense of limitations in a physical environment. At my school of course this was Expeditions. To this day I remember doing my first abseil with you and thinking as I edged toward that cliff edge that, despite all the ropes and buckles linking me to safety, that what I was about to do would definitely kill me, then making my way down and, at the bottom, feeling on top of the world. I also know that that I would not be where I am today had I not had that experience. So many alumni have told me the same thing.
Second, mentoring. I came to the school after five years in a British boarding school, where the staff treated their charges as lower life forms, not human beings. At our school, the staff were your partners--they knew you better than you knew yourself and wanted to work with you to help--make--you fullfill your potential. You, the Parsons, Teddy Senn and others were all more than teachers to me, which is why 30+ years later we're still in touch.
Both of those you have in your program. The third one, which you need to add somehow, is what I call the Inner Life, by which I mean the habit--and I stress the word habit--of reflection, of looking into yourself and thinking something over, whether it be an experience you've just had or an issue or problem you're trying to get your arms around. I probably remember two Meditations out of the hundreds I heard in my six years. It doesn't matter. I got something bigger out of the practice of morning Meditation. I'm not suggesting you institute meditations in your program but I do think you need to build in something that trains the kids to look inward. That habit is so lacking everywhere nowadays and it's essential. If you don't do your own thinking you don't figure out who you are and you're hostage to groupthink, which is a really dangerous place to be...."
Eric Gibson, New York