Books, Professional Development

Book 39: Outward Bound USA: Crew Not Passengers – Josh Miner and Joe Boldt

“I was suddenly aware of how ignorant I was, alive with curiosity, doing academic work at a level I would not have thought possible a few years before. I did not know it yet, but I was learning the basic educational fact of life: the answers are meaningless until the questions are asked.” (17)

This quote pretty much sums up my review of this book and my beliefs in the need to be challenged in education and the push/drive for excellence. Not only was I pleasantly surprised by this book, I learned a lot more about the history of Outward Bound USA and its intricate ties to experiential education in the United States. Now this might seem like a bit of a contradiction with a title like Outward Bound USA: Crew Not Passengers, but I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. The book sat on the bookshelf in my cubicle the entire time I’ve been at my current position and one day I decided I should read it and not only did it reaffirm my decisions to work where I work, but it also further informed my belief that classroom learning is important, but it’s what you do outside of the classroom in relation that’s just as important.

As usual this post rambles, but what would this blog be if it didn’t? Aside from the intricate tying of Outward Bound (the history and the impact) to Experiential Education I truly enjoyed the writing style of the author(s). There were a few chapters where names and schools got a bit tedious, but overall it was more about the story and not the when and where unless it was vitally important to know. There were quite a few quotes, aside from the first one that I enjoyed, but I only pulled about ten. Many of the quotes I wanted to pull didn’t make sense out of context (and these might not either), but I felt these were some how connected to the essence of Outward Bound, Experiential Education and the book itself. Clearly some of the quotes are more controversial than others (Quote 6), but overall I feel they are brilliant, but none more so than the following. Perhaps because of its connection to my summer camp experiences and how eloquently Miner put it. The quote reminds me of my summers spent at camp and how we were told not to look back at the end of the summer so the following year, or your next visit no matter how long away you would return to camp looking at it with fond memories.

Quotes from Outward Bound USA: Crew Not Passengers
“‘Look back over your left shoulder, but only once,’ he said. ‘Then you’ll surely return.’ When down the road we took that last look, the man who had changed my life forever was still standing with his hand raised in farewell.'” (62, Kurt Hahn)

“Games were good when they taught a lesson of ‘the good ally’ and teamwork, modesty in winning, resolution in defeat. They did harm when they glorified individual performance, or brute power, and when they stifled other interests. And they did nothing for the physical development of the boys who did not take part.” (58)

“Not finding a new hold to come along by, Bill said, he was in a state of terror, his face a burst of sweat. As he clung there, the granite rock suddenly jumped out in startling focus. He saw the crystalline structure, the color and composition of the individual grains, the marvelous way they interlocked. He had never looked at a rock in that way before. He found himself wondering what else he had been missing by failing to see. And then, he said, Outward Bound hit him. Because he wondered what he had been missing in the faces of the parishioners he had counseled.” (124)

“You let people be conquered by their fear, and you sentence them to loss of a part of their lives they’re never going to realize. You can enrich a person’s life a hundredfold when he gets through with this hang-up. That’s what you have to keep your sights on–not the immediate small trauma that he has to go through to get there.”(125-6 Bill Byrd)

“However, much in this book makes clear that there is no inherent contradiction between conventional classroom and experiential approaches to learning, and that in fact the happiest results are obtained where a symbiotic relationship exists.” (305)

“As I see young people today, and the kinds of problems they wrestle with, it does seem that one of the most persistent points of tension and difficulty is low self-esteem. This seems strange, with all the advantages they have, but the fact is, I think, in our modern, industrialized gadget-ridden society in urban settings, most young people in one sense really grow up to maturity as parasites. They’ve never had to do anything particularly useful. They’re always in a sense parasites on their parents, on the community, on the school, and so on. They’re not really contributors as people who grew up in a farm community are.” (310-311 Dr. Landrum Bolling)

“Teach as little as possible. When you teach someone, you deprive him of the opportunity to learn.” (Kurt Hahn 343)

[In reference to Expeditionary Learning Schools] “Yes, we would answer, it is rigorous. Yes, you will climb many mountains, though they might not be outdoors. The children will, with hope, learn to read. And by all accounts, there will be no typical day. Like on an Outward Bound Expedition, you’ll have to make up some of the rules as you go along. And it is very different from what you’ve known before.” (376)

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