GOOD

Why One Educator Tells Bullies And Their Victims To Take It Outside—Way Outside

Detention and the principal’s office haven’t exactly fixed this age-old problem

I learned to teach in a nontraditional classroom. It rarely has a roof or walls, and my students are not always younger than me. My only direct lessons involve tying climbing knots or how to keep people safe in trust-based activities. I observe more than I lecture. Over the course of a day, if I am doing my job well, I listen more than I speak.


For over 20 years now, I have been lucky to be a participant in, and then a facilitator for Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience, or COPE, a program in the Boy Scouts of America. That listening is a full-body activity becomes more apparent when the classroom of the day includes the wind blowing over a lake, redtail hawks soaring overhead, and squirrels chattering.

[quote position="right" is_quote="true"]Listening is a full-body activity.[/quote]

When participants in COPE programs in Killingworth, Connecticut, leave the school bus or their cars, they walk over a causeway between a lake and a lagoon, and then up the dirt road into the field. Once there, they enter a new space where how they learn is turned on its head. Technically speaking, the methodology is pulled from the theories of John Dewey and Bruce Tuckman’s stages of group development—forming, storming, norming, and performing—but it falls under the ever-expanding umbrella of “team building.”

We ask our participants, who range from scouts and school groups to college athletic teams and corporate groups, to be open to new experiences. At a time when 3.2 million kids are bullied every year, we also talk about what discounting—dismissing another person's thoughts and feelings—means.

Our no discounting policy is strict: Everyone has value and the ability to contribute. Everyone else can teach us something about our world and ourselves, even if we think we have nothing in common. Once we stop discounting and create space where everyone is empowered, we learn that we have far more in common than we might initially think. And then, we walk further into the woods.

We talk about “leave no trace”—the idea that we can leave the outdoor space in a better condition than we found it, and act as good custodians so that the next group of people has the opportunity to enjoy this piece of wilderness. We talk about challenge by choice, and how this not only means that no one will be forced past their own boundaries, but also how their attitude in approaching challenges can determine what activity they might be offered next.

Our activities include obstacle courses and brain teasers that build skills as we move through different sequences. As the degree of difficulty and risk steadily increases, so does the group’s reliance on each other. Reaching the final goal of rock climbing or completing a high ropes course becomes a progressive lesson in learning and practicing communication and reflection skills.

Indeed, after every task, the groups debrief. They might be asked to reflect on something to be celebrated in another member’s efforts, or something they would change about their own. They might be asked to identify how they worked together and what roles they take on in the group, or where the learning moments were. Unlike a multiple-choice exam or a short-answer pop quiz, there are no wrong answers. The students are only building a tool kit that we hope they access after they leave.

[quote position="full" is_quote="true"]As the degree of difficulty and risk steadily increases, so does the group’s reliance on each other.[/quote]

But most significantly, as each program closes and our staff comes together for our own debrief, we discuss our highlights—the things that could have gone better, and our own opportunities to learn. I have found that there is an intrinsic empathy necessary to teach students to push outside of their comfort zone, face their fears, and learn to see the world in a different way. The discomfort of not only forcing oneself to live another’s experience in a particular moment, but also to actively search for a way to help is one of the hardest things to overcome. Perhaps, as the needs of classrooms change and the world shifts beyond all of our comfort zones, this lesson is more relevant than ever.

Education

Between Alexa, Siri, and Google, artificial intelligence is quickly changing us and the way we live. We no longer have to get up to turn on the lights or set the thermostat, we can find the fastest route to work with a click, and, most importantly, tag our friends in pictures. But interacting with the world isn't the only thing AI is making easier – now we can use it save the world, too.

Keep Reading Show less
Good News

An anonymous White House official claims President Trump cruelly limited Hispanic immigrants in their new book, "A Warning."

The book, to be released on November 19, gives an alleged insider account of the Trump White House and paints a picture of the president as a chaotic man who lacks the mental and moral acumen required for the job.

The anonymous staffer says that Trump once feigned a Hispanic accent and made fun of women attempting to immigrate to the U.S.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via KTVU / YouTube

The 63-year-old Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, currently branded the RingCentral Coliseum, is one of the most decrepit sports venues in America.

The home to the the NFL's Oakland Raiders (until they move to Las Vegas next season) and MLB's A's, is notoriously known as the Black Hole and has made headlines for its frequent flooding and sewage issues.

One of the stadium's few positive aspects is its connection to public transportation.

Keep Reading Show less
Hero Video
Yad Vashem

Since 1992, the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous has been holding reunion ceremonies between Holocaust survivors and rescuers once a year. But the tradition is coming to an end, as many have died or are too frail to travel. What might be the last reunion of its kind took place when a 92-year-old woman met up with the two surviving family members that she helped hide during the Holocaust, and their descendants.

Sarah Yanai and Yossi Mor introduced Melpomeni Dina (nee Gianopoulou) to their almost 40 family members, all decedents of the Mordechai family, the family of seven that Dina and her two sisters hid during WWII. "There are no words to describe this feeling," Dina told the Jeruselum Post. "It is very emotional for us to be together again."

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
via Facebook / Autumn Dayss

Facebook user and cosplayer Autumn Dayss has stirred up a bit of Halloween controversy with her last-minute costume, an anti-Vaxx mother.

An image she posted to the social network shows a smiling Dayss wearing a baby carrier featuring a small skeleton. "Going to a costume party tonight as Karen and her non-vaccinated child," the caption over the image reads.

Keep Reading Show less
Health