Pan European Networks - Horizon 2020 - page 150

S
tudents that join School at Sea are typically bright young
people who are willing to take on an additional challenge
on top of their schoolwork. School at Sea offers them an
outdoor educational programme that runs for six months: the Tall
Ships Challenge. Onboard they learn to sail the vessel themselves,
in addition to their regular schoolwork, and gain insights into how
to use their knowledge in practice. At landfall they learn about
new cultures, societies and Nature.
Challenges for the future
Teachers and educators ask themselves regularly if they are
teaching the right curriculum, and rightly so. Many of the current
subjects available for college majors did not exist ten years ago. A
week’s worth of the
New York Times
is estimated to contain more
information than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime
continues until the age of 24,
though it seems unrelated to
cognitive development.
When it comes to cognitive
development, a huge
breakthrough in research has
been possible due to the growth
of technology. Magnetic
resonance imaging enables
study of the brains of living
people. This results in many new
insights into cognitive
development. For example, the
part of the brain concerned with
emotions, sexuality and sensitivity to stress is also connected to
sensitivity to rewards. This part of the brain develops earlier than
the part responsive to negative consequences of behaviour. This
explains why teenagers are more prone to taking risks: they
perceive a higher chance of rewards when taking actions, without
getting biochemical signals that something might go wrong.
So should we just wait for this cognitive development to happen
by itself? No, results show that roughly half of the brain’s
development is influenced by the adolescent’s environment,
meaning that we can train the brain and that the surroundings of
the adolescent should offer the right stimulus at the right stage.
That is what School at Sea is about.
Educational value of life onboard a tall ship
Once onboard the students will – after the initial safety training and
deck instructions – enter a rotating system: one day of school and
one day of sailing the vessel. On the sailing days the students will
be on watch twice daily for periods of four hours. During the
watches they will learn to sail and operate the vessel themselves,
from steering and lookout, setting and trimming the sails,
navigation and weather forecasts to checking the engine room and
organising social life. The crew gradually transfers responsibility for
these tasks to the students as their mastery grows.
A tall ship is an excellent platform to learn teamwork and
leadership skills. The vessel is a contained environment where the
teachers can give the students responsibility in a real-life situation
while watching over their safety. All actions pertaining to sailing the
vessel require teamwork and co-ordination. Doing a manoeuvre
under sail is a perfect example: if the team members don’t
School at Sea is a talent development and leadership programme for high school
students; it offers them the chance to learn 21st Century skills aboard a tall ship
You sail, you learn
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I S S U E S I X
H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L
P R O F I L E
S O C I E TA L C H A L L E N G E S : E N V I R O N M E N T
How do we prepare adolescents for their future, knowing that, as
Albert Einstein remarked,“We cannot solve problems by using the
same kind of thinking we used when we created them”?
in the 18th Century. Meanwhile, the amount of technological
information is doubling every two years.
Development of adolescents and School at Sea
The debate on the psychosocial development of adolescents is
over 2,000 years old, and even nowadays there is no single
concluding theory available. Recent research from Professor Dr
Michiel Westenberg, a developmental and educational
psychologist, is very valuable for the development of educational
programmes. It not only takes into account new insights, it also
gives an overview of the aspects of psychological development
and the process by which youngsters acquire new skills.
The main aspects are: 1) the ability to control one’s impulses and
emotions; 2) the development of autonomy with regard to
relationships with parents and peers; 3) the capability of being
able to empathise with others and understand different points of
view; and 4) increasing the ability to take responsibility for oneself
and others. An important new insight is that the development of
these aspects does not take place at the same age for all
youngsters. Also, the order in which these aspects develop is
different from person to person. Moreover, this development
Monique Touw
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