Learning outside the classroom

By Morgan Brooke | Oct 12, 2018

Often, the most important lessons in life are learned outside of a classroom. Basic skills such as how to feed ourselves, how to walk, and how to talk most likely happened outside of school. All my life, I have been very fortunate to have great schooling experiences. I have attended public school, private school, Waldorf school, a charter school, and have even homeschooled over the course of 16 years. But my best learning experiences have come from actually being out in the world, doing things like traveling, working, and making a difference in other people's lives.

At age four, my parents taught me how to work the toaster oven and heat up some frozen waffles for breakfast. At age six, I learned how to ride a bike, and that experience allowed me to get from point A to point B. At age eight, when traveling with my parents, I learned how to walk into an airport and find my gate. At age 12, I had to adjust to a new environment and make new friends when I moved to a different state. I learned how to file taxes and apply for a job when I was 14, and I have used those skills many times since. At age 16, I am making my own money and learning the value of how much things cost. I know that I make $10 an hour, and if I buy lunch, a drink, and a snack, there goes my $10. I can weigh the cost of a meal versus an hour of work. I know that if I go out to eat four days a week and work one four-hour shift in that week, none of the money that I earned that week will go towards savings.

When I was in elementary school, I felt frustrated with what I was learning. I knew that Alexander the Great was the ruler of Macedonia and conquered the Persian empire. I learned what the author meant in a poem by this word or that word, and I learned how to draw a compare and contrasting chart. But at the same time, I had no idea how money or jobs worked in the world. Even today, I know people who get great grades, but don’t know how to fill out a job application.

I’ve talked to some high school students who have had real-world experiences where they have to think for themselves, and motivate themselves to get involved with issues important to them. Whether it be internships at a computer lab, teaching writing to middle-schoolers, or starting their own business, these high school students all said that when they stepped out of school to have real-world jobs or experiences, they had positive benefits in deciding their future.

Hallie Arno, now a freshman at College of the Atlantic, said that her internship at the Darling Marine Center in Damariscotta Maine, was just as beneficial as classes in high school, such as SAT prep or American history. Hallie is now taking a marine biology class at her college, and the real-world work she’s done in the field is proving helpful to her as she continues her studies and considers pursuing marine biology as a career.

Alex Facq did an independent study during his junior year at Watershed School with an online coding class designed by MIT. “During my independent study I had the opportunity to learn how to code in the language Python,” Alex said. “This was very important for my interests in becoming a scientist as it is one of the most commonly used data analysis languages. It allows me to go forward into college with knowledge that I would have otherwise not been able to attain in high school classes.” Alex is now working on applying to colleges where he can pursue his future career in coding, web design, and science.

Students have a lot on their plates with sports, homework and studying, social activities, and sleep, so much so that we rarely have time for anything else. I go to school five days a week, work in a restaurant three nights after school, intern at the Camden Herald, strive for good grades, act as Watershed School’s LEF club co-president, and try to get over eight hours of sleep a night. It’s hard sometimes to do all these things, but I know that everything I am doing is beneficial to me and to my future, and I want to make sure I can use my skills from working, interning, and enjoying my time as a student to create my own world after high school. I am grateful that my friends, parents, and school have inspired me to pursue meaningful opportunities.

Morgan Brooke is an intern at the Camden Herald and a sophomore at Watershed School.




Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Oct 12, 2018 16:10

Congratulation to this student who is learning about life and contributing to society. Surely there is a scholarship out there to push his academic learning along.

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