May 2, 2011 by Crane Wood Stookey
When it comes to engagement, efficiency can be a remarkably poor way of accomplishing things. It may be good for getting specific things done, but for engaging people or offering them ways to grow and learn, efficiency just isn’t very efficient.
On a Nova Scotia Sea School adventure voyage, the food for the teenage crew is kept in watertight plastic buckets. The Sea School’s boat is completely open to the weather, and everything gets wet and stepped on. Read more…
April 24, 2011 by Crane Wood Stookey
Ask any child if they feel deeply engaged by their school, and what do most answer? Ask any child how their school should be run, and they’ll have plenty to say. But there’s one school that actually listens: the Sudbury Valley School, a private school for all grades in Massachusetts that fosters a truly remarkable level of engagement in its students.
Sudbury Valley calls itself a democratic school, which is accurate, because all decisions regarding the day-to-day operation of the school are made by the weekly School Meeting. Every student, in all the grades, and all staff have a vote in the School Meeting. The staff have a lot of influence and are respected as elders, but there are over 200 students and around 11 staff, so the students rule. The School Meeting sets the budget, allocates funds, creates and enforces the rules, and hires and fires the staff. Read more…
February 9, 2011 by Crane Wood Stookey
Near the middle of a ten-day Nova Scotia Sea School voyage, when the crew was starting to get good at handling the boat, two boys, Peter and Jay, were in command for the day. They were both veterans of other Sea School voyages and I expected big things from them.
Coming into a narrow, tricky harbour entrance I said, “You two are in charge, I won’t say anything unless I have to.” They decided to make a cautious approach, organizing the crew to take down the sails and make ready to get the oars out and row in.
But I thought, with the experience they had, that they should be up to sailing in, tricky as it might be, and I interrupted. “Wait a minute. You’re not sailing in?” Read more…
November 28, 2010 by Crane Wood Stookey
Have you ever slept on a row of oars? No? Really never? Well you should try it. Oars are excellent teachers.
At the Nova Scotia Sea School crews of ten teenagers and two instructors sail the Nova Scotia coast in 30-foot open boats with no engines, no cabins, no electronics. The boats have two masts with sails, and eight 13-foot-long oars. Those are the engine. We anchor at night in some protected cove, but we live in the boat, sleeping on the oars under a tarp. The teenagers learn to take command of the boat, and of their lives, but we accept that the boat is really the one in command. Read more…
October 25, 2010 by Crane Wood Stookey
The bad leader is hated and feared,
The good leader is loved and praised,
The great leader, when their work is done,
The people say, “We did this ourselves.” (Lao Tzu)
Of the leaders and teachers I have met, the most effective have the attitude that their job is to create the conditions that allow others to grow and prosper. Then their organizations, and their society, can grow and prosper with them. Read more…