After recently watching 13-year-old Logan LaPlante discussing his concept of learning during a TEDx (Technology, Entertainment, Design) event in Nevada, our co-founders Zac and Celine Adair jokingly said they want to adopt this self-proclaimed hacker of education.
Young Logan spoke before an audience at the University of Nevada last February, where he discussed the disconnect between education and happiness. The theme of his 11-minute talk – which you can watch via the YouTube embed below – rang true for Zac and Celine, who developed the curriculum here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE). That curriculum, which we’ll be blogging about in the weeks and months to follow, promotes self, community, action and impact for teens and adults alike.
Wearing a ski cap and the confidence of a veteran circuit speaker, this home-taught youngster who is barely a teen-ager, told the TEDx audience that much of what passes for education is oriented toward making a living rather than making a life. Then he asked, “What would happen if we based education on the study and practice of being happy and healthy?”
We couldn’t agree more. In fact, Celine reminds us that NCOAE’s outdoor and adventure education offerings are designed with improvement in self-actualization, decision-making, and esteem, communication, teamwork, civic responsibility and environmental stewardship in mind.
Equally important is the fact that our course participants have the time of their lives while making such improvements. It’s all about having fun, thriving and being happy.
And, according to young Logan, the science of being happy and healthy comes down to practicing eight things:
- Diet and nutrition
- Time in nature
- Contribution and service
- Relaxation and stress management
- Religion and spirituality
Logan suggests that traditional schools today are not making these eight practices a priority. Again, he says, it’s all about making a living, not learning how to enjoy life.
Clearly, Logan loves being outside just as much as we do, and when he refers to Dr. Roger Walsh’s seven therapeutic life-style changes, it was as if he had a checklist for our program, activities and outcomes.
Five of these seven are built into every adventure program (as activities) offered at NCOAE, and two are results or outcomes from our adventure programs. Our bias, like Logan’s, is that recreation, plus time in nature + exercise + nutrition + relationships = relaxation & spiritual satisfaction.
Celine was especially drawn to Logan’s preference for “hacking” education, because as Logan says, hackers are innovators, people who challenge and change the system to make them work differently — make them work better.
And he says everything is up for being hacked. Even education. He said he hacks his education by taking advantage of opportunities in his community and his network of friends and family. He said he’s not afraid to look for shortcuts — or hacks — to get a better, faster result.
We, too, believe in the ‘hacking’ mentality — except we like to refer to it as critical thinking and we think it so important that we have developed a specific ‘Ed Group’ to help promote it in our course participants.
Here at NCOAE, Ed Groups (educational groups) focus on feelings identification, unproductive defense mechanisms, stress management, values clarification, levels of communication, critical thinking, collaboration, conflict resolution, civic responsibility, learning tolerance and leadership qualities.
Taking advantage of teachable moments or learning moments is a mindset, not a system. It also just so happens to be NCOAE’s mindset!
As for adopting Logan… Logan, should you ever need a home, you’ll always be welcome on one of our courses or here at our base camp in Wilmington, NC.