What do a 3-year-old milking a cow, a 5th grader catching and studying live birds, and a high schooler participating in a social movement near the Dominican-Haitian border all have in common? They are all doing these things as fieldwork for expeditionary learning curricula at Doulos.
Our students’ expeditionary learning culminates at the end of each semester with an ‘Expedition Night’ that showcases the things they’ve learned that semester. Useful products, fieldwork, service projects, and thought leadership are put on display for all the local community to see and celebrate. For those who’ve witnessed this incredible night know that it’s a truly magical time on campus. (And those of us who have prepared for this night know that it’s truly a chaotic time on campus too!)
Why Expeditionary Learning? I’ve asked myself this question on multiple occasions. Between the cutest kindergartener puking on me in the bus, 5th graders trying to put toothpaste on my face as I slept, and cleaning infected toes on the trail, not to mention the fact that coordinating expeditions is a logistical nightmare with a dozen different grades interacting and needing trips to dozen different places to do a dozen different things- I’ve questioned the educational value of these expeditions.
The value of expeditionary learning is that learning and leadership cannot be fully grasped in a traditional education setting. John Le Carre surmised that, “sometimes…we have to do a thing to find out the reason for it.” We (not just students) need to take learning into our own hands and be allowed to take supervised and calculated risks, to try, fail, and try again, and learn intangibles like teamwork, overcoming adversity, pushing oneself physically, and simply doing hard things. That is our hope here at Doulos. Not simply to educate, but to help students truly learn.
Mark Twain is often cited as saying that he never let his schooling get in the way of his education. At Doulos we are constantly striving to push the kids to not only become educated in the traditional sense of the word, but to challenge the status-quo, learn by doing, and ultimately shift their paradigms to that of a servant leader. We encourage our students to live from the Truth that God is able to do far more than we could ever ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.
That is why we value expeditionary learning at Doulos. What about you?