Kids today have so many stresses facing them, not the least of which are plans for the future. It’s hard to think about being a successful adult when you also have grades, portfolios, advanced classes, and high emotions to deal with every day, let alone the fact that humankind is starting to look more and more like an endangered species thanks to how we’ve treated our planet.
For many young people, school has become something to get through before they can move on to the next thing, and whether that includes college or not is a big question these days as tuition and student loans skyrocket. The good news is that many states are home to leadership schools, which take brilliant young minds and teach them how to be exceptional leaders in a world of growing technology. There is more to building a sustainable planet than getting some people and businesses to “go green” by giving them tax incentives. That’s not a bad thing, but we need young people to not only develop into environmentally-conscious adults, but to take the lead on preserving our environment.
These schools vary greatly in their curriculum, with each focusing on a different method of teaching and learning. The National Outdoor Leadership School offers wilderness education and leadership to kids aged 14 and up, letting them soak up the outdoors in one of several locations from the Rocky Mountains to Australia. These courses include white water rafting, rock climbing, backpacking, sailing, and wilderness medicine and will teach young people survival skills in addition to how to lead a group in an outdoor environment.
“What NOLS teaches cannot be learned in a traditional classroom or on a city street. It takes practice to learn outdoor skills and time to develop leadership. The backcountry provides the ideal setting for this unique, experiential education—NOLS classrooms are some of the world’s wildest and most awe-inspiring locations. We believe living in untouched places like our classrooms will teach students responsibility for all that surrounds us,” says the National Outdoor Leadership School website.
Other schools focus on an education in what it takes to solve global issues, such as hunger, finding clean water, and getting medicine to those who need it most. The World Leadership School is just such an example, transforming K-12 classrooms so that they learn to take on a project-based approach to building leadership skills.
“Transforming the classroom experience at every level is essential to develop the capacities of young people to become innovators,” says Tony Wagner of the organization.
Changing the way students learn is important because it allows them to immerse themselves in the study of a subject, whether it’s science and technology or backpacking through the wilderness. Through these learning techniques, young people become more confident, social, and self-aware, and can learn how to develop strategies for tackling the needs of a group rather than just their own.
Not only that, but leadership schools that have a large population of kids who come from underprivileged backgrounds have shown great success in helping those young people move away from the stresses they face every day and go on to become wonderful leaders and thinkers. In short, these schools are the perfect tools for young people to learn about the most important challenges facing the human race and how to solve them. Science, technology, environment, and global issues are just a few examples of the topics students can study, learn, and become proficient at.
Giving young people the confidence to create real change can be life-altering, and for the future generations, this type of learning can mean the difference between staying in an environment that prohibits their growth and getting out to have their ideas heard.