How does one define Experiential Education? Of course it's the education that one gets from the varying experiences of life. It is the education that an infant gets when she her fingers tell her that the bars of her crib are hard and her mother is soft. It's the education that a toddler gets when he falls and gets up and re balances himself and tries again and learns to walk. It grows into learning that the neighbor's puppy isn't going to try to eat you when he rushes at you. If you are clever and continue to seek out experience it becomes the visceral understanding that you need to plane wood with the grain, that a tide flow will catch your boat if you're not on your toes, and that the cookies will probably get eaten even if you forget the salt.

As we get more and more experienced in life we develop confidence in ourselves and in our ability to handle the situations life throws at us. It is that confidence that we all seek, that we find so attractive in others and in ourselves. And what is confidence but having done something so many times that you know you can handle it. Can you tie your shoe? Ride a bike? Drive a car? Of course. Confidence.

Can you drive a boat? Sew a sail? Build a home? A doghouse? Cut an oar? Maybe. I don't know. I've never tried. Less confidence.

Our school system in America has, for years, focused on academic education. The founders of this system understood many years ago that a strong citizenry of America needed to be literate. As the needs of America changed, so did our schools, adding advanced mathematics, foreign languages, computer literacy and programming.

But our forefathers lived in a different America. Skills were taught in the home. Microwave waffles hadn't been invented. CDs hadn't been invented. People sang to entertain themselves, cooked and grew vegetables to feed themselves, and built the structures they needed to shelter themselves. Experiences in the homes of a growing nation were many, and the resultant skills were a natural by-product. The resultant confidence, self-reliance, and pride were so natural that nobody even thought of them. They just were. And we, as a people, were strong.

Schools in America change with the times. Systems so large naturally change slowly, but they do change. They are staffed with men and women who have given their lives to educating the America of tomorrow. They need our help in providing tomorrow's leaders with life enriching experiences beyond the classroom through which our children can develop pride and confidence. It is the mission of Station Maine to offer those experiences.

Living on the coast of Maine brings with it an expectation, if not a longing, to develop the skills of the sea. Sail or row a boat. Sew a sail. Winterize the outboard. Command a vessel. Get out on the water in the rain and the cold. Feel your arms ache on the oars. Feel the pride in your fingers as the wood shavings curl up under your fingers on the oar you're cutting. Do something physical. Feel the pride.


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