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Design Principles

Expeditionary Learning is built on ten Design Principles that reflect the educational values and beliefs of Outward Bound.  At Doulos we have evaluated each DP and rewritten a list of 8 to better reflect our nature as a Christian school. These principles reflect connections to how we think about teaching, learning, and the culture of our school.

The Discovery of Truth

We discover truth and gain knowledge through God’s word and through His creation, and the Scriptures help us to properly understand what God’s creation is proclaiming day and night.[i] Through God’s word we learn that we are people created in God’s image to have dominion over and care for the earth, so we can trust that we are capable of discovering truth about God’s creation through the academic subjects.

Because our triune God is the Creator and Sustainer of everything, all truth is God’s truth. We do not create or construct our own truth, but instead discover the truth that is already present in reality. Any knowledge we can gain through our study of any subject is knowledge of God’s truth.

Our primary task as educators is to guide our students into deeper discipleship under Jesus Christ. Whether in the study of God’s word or in the exploration of His creation, growth in knowledge and understanding of truth happens in a creative balance between challenge and support, between the risk and unexpected of adventure and the safety of returning home to reflect. In order to teach our students how to depend on Jesus for their strength, we challenge them beyond their normal comfort zones, guiding them in “tasks that require perseverance, fitness, craftsmanship, imagination, self-discipline, and significant achievement,”[ii] whether in class or out on the trails leading to Pico Duarte. We want them to understand that God has resources to move in ways more powerful than they can on their own, and therefore to act boldly in the world, trusting that God will accomplish His will through those who trust in Him.

Contemplation and Action

God and His creation should be contemplated, reflected upon, meditated on and engaged in relationship. We should get to know God through His word, and as we study the different academic disciplines, we should carefully observe His creation and how He holds it together, taking time for direct experience and experimentation. Staff and students need ample time for solitude and reflection upon what is learned, so that they can form deep thoughts related to God and His creation.

This knowledge should not stop at the theoretical, however, but should drive us into action, precisely because any truth we discover is God’s truth, and is therefore shaping of our individual character and our collective culture. And all action should drive us back into further contemplation, so that we enter a virtuous circle of growing in depth of knowledge and wisdom so that our actions in the world are more attuned to God’s depth of character.

Disciples Are Learners

Learning is a communal and individual journey of discovery. We need both collective and individual learning and development to truly have either one, because people cannot be disciples of Christ apart from His body––the collective body of believers. As everyone at Doulos, staff or student, grows in discipleship under Jesus Christ and understanding of God’s creation, our mutual learning experience will lead us into deeper wisdom than would be possible for ourselves alone.

We want to learn as disciples, and therefore we seek to Biblically integrate our administrative leadership and our classes. If staff and students can grow together in seeing every area of study and every task from a Biblical perspective, then we can all grow together in being disciples of Jesus Christ in every area of life, including our studies and our work.

We Live to Love and Serve

We were created to worship God, to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.[iii] In our sin, we could not love and worship God as He originally intended, but He loves us so much that He sent Jesus Christ to reconcile us to Himself.[iv] Now we can love because Christ first loved us,[v] and we can become mature followers of Christ who love God first and love our neighbors out of the overflow of God’s love for us.

Out of gratitude for Jesus who first loved and served us, we seek to love and serve our neighbors as ourselves, looking out for their interests and humbly counting them more significant than ourselves.[vi] As a community, we foster an environment in which staff members mutually encourage one another as disciples of Jesus Christ, and each student has Christ-centered staff looking out for his or her spiritual maturity and well-being.

“We are crew, not passengers,”[vii] so we serve as a body, dedicated to working together to serve our neighbors in real, authentic ways, both at Doulos and in the surrounding community. As staff and students, we want to “learn from and be of service,”[viii] as well as to learn from and be grateful for those who serve us.

Challenge and Support

We challenge our students to grow in ways they never thought possible, encouraging them to trust in God’s provision, and seeking to give students the individual and collective support they need to achieve great things. As our students face these difficult challenges, they may not always succeed. Even in failure, we remind our students that their true identity rests in our Lord and not in their performance, we intentionally provide space for students to reflect on and learn from that failure, and we give them the support they need to face the next big challenge with confidence and hope, seeking to glorify God by meeting the challenge with excellence.

Collaboration and Competition[ix]

As we seek to be disciples of Christ, individual and collective development are interdependent, because followers of Jesus are part of His body and can only grow together. Within this mutual growth, there is room for collaboration and competition.

In collaboration, we cultivate friendship, teamwork and mutual service, always remembering that our God-given responsibility is to love God and love one another[x] as we seek excellence in facing the challenge before us.

Our primary competition is with ourselves, as we seek to worship God by facing difficult challenges with a level of excellence that exceeds our previous achievements, but there is a place for sharpening and honing our knowledge and skills through competition with others. The goal of such competition is not winning or basing our identity on achieving more than others, but mutual growth in discipleship to Jesus Christ and knowledge of God and His creation.

Unity and Diversity

God created mankind in his image. This is true of all people in all cultures, and therefore diversity should be celebrated, and we should expect to be able to learn unique and valuable things from every individual and every culture. And in Christ, “there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.”[xi]

We celebrate that in our diversity we find unity in Jesus Christ, and that in our unity we can reflect the unity and diversity of the Trinity. In Christ, we understand that there are different individual and cultural strengths that are God-glorifying, and other individual and cultural sins and weaknesses that need to be protested, redeemed and restored. As a diverse community, we have the beautiful opportunity to learn from God together, not conforming to this world, but being transformed together by the renewing of our minds[xii] into a community of people who reflect the God-glorifying aspects of all the individuals and cultures involved in Doulos, while praying for––and working alongside God in––His redemption and restoration of the sinful and broken aspects of both individual lives and the culture around us.

Knowing and Loving God’s Creation

Our staff and students spend extended time in God’s creation, whether through subject-specific observation or through extended Outdoor Education trips, so that they can develop a holistic understanding of and love for the earth. We cultivate experiential knowledge of and love for the wonders of God’s creation, so that our students can be stewards of the earth, both developing it and protecting its God-given beauty


[i] John 14:6; Psalm 119:160; John 17:17; Psalm 19:1-4.

[ii] Quoted from EL Design Principle #1.

[iii] Matthew 22:37

[iv] Romans 5:6-11

[v] 1 John 4:19

[vi] Philippians 2:1-11

[vii] Quoted from EL Design Principle #10.

[viii] Ibid.

[ix] This title is borrowed from EL Design Principle #6.

[x] “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” -Matthew 7:12

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” -Matthew 22:39

[xi] Colossians 3:11

[xii] Romans 12:1-2