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How Sailing Programs Change Attitudes

 In North Carolina, a law has been passed to revoke a driver's license for anyone under the age of 18 with failing grades in school or school dropouts. Laws are being passed to force teenagers to comply to the formal education system. If threats don't work, students are given pills that will change their behavior, forcing them to comply. These policies are DEAD WRONG! Isn't there a better way? Think about it. There must be A BETTER WAY.

If behavior control pills were available a hundred years ago, Thomas Edison would not have invented the light bulb and the Wright brothers would not have invented the airplane. Their learning habits were out of harmony with the formal education system. If their learning habits were out of sync with society, what was their secret for success? They were ACTIVE DREAMERS and AGGRESSIVE LEARNERS.

Man by nature is a dreamer and a learner. This process grows until those ambitions are killed by their social environment, including behavior control pills. With no ambitions, many students just give up. Students that lack academic skills, but are loaded with technical skills, like Thomas Edison, have two options: Find ways to educate themselves or enter a team education program.

Team education is an extremely powerful learning tool. Three motivated people debating a problem can find powerful solutions regardless of their education background. While debating pros and cons, peer pressure motivates participants to become aggressive learners. Aboard ocean sailing vessels, the "team education" concept is repeated daily. THERE IS A BETTER WAY!

I was captain of a windjammer-training program for teenagers and witnessed the dynamic power of team motivation. All crewmembers learned how to sail, how to work together and how to accomplished personal goals. They learn to trust themselves as well as others. When man is challenging the wind and the sea, barriers come down and team involvement soars.

Ocean sailing is an educational opportunity where the curriculum is controlled by nature. The crew and ship must work in harmony with nature. When underway, there is the never-ending task of learning how the interaction of the vessel reacts with fluid dynamics and the atmosphere. The crew becomes comfortable with cause and effect, as well as persistence, endurance, patience, and courage; attitudes that are almost impossible to teach in a classroom.

A tall ship is a disciplinary learning machine. Learning and applying the maritime "rules of the road" are necessary for safety and comfort. Navigation and piloting are important for math and chart reading skills. Crewmembers must consider options, select a destination, plan how to get there efficiently and safely, then DO IT? Ocean sailing presents real problems that require real solutions, which must be dealt with right away. At sea, the results of the crews' decisions are experienced NOW! And the reasons for the decision are understood NOW! There is no way to cheat, lie, or take shortcuts. Nature does not allow its laws to be broken. Crewmembers soon realize that successful decision-making skills are based on the laws of nature.

Sailing is an environment that must be operated with both mind and muscle. Some of the tasks such as raising sails require team effort, physically pulling together, whereas other tasks, such as steering the vessel, may only be done by one person at a time, acting alone, yet in harmony with the whole ship. The rules under which these systems function are both simple and demanding. They are not the rules of the teacher, or the school board, or the government, but rather, the rules of nature. Nature's laws do not create failures. Nature's laws demand respect and honesty. Team members do not let team mates fail. Teammates also demand respect and honesty.

Life at sea stimulates dreams, which in turn promotes aggressive motivation - man's natural desire to survive. With survival instincts activated in a hostile environment, dreams take on a new meaning. Looking out to the edge of the visible world, you can't help but wonder what life is like in ports below the horizon. Standing for hours at the helm, you can't help but think of ways to take control of your life. The secret to success is found by using all the mental and physical skills that are experienced under towering sails, starlit nights, and pounding seas. THERE IS A BETTER WAY!

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