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U.S. News & World Report Chronicles the Roots of EL Education

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    April Hattori

A new U.S. News & World Report article written by The Hechinger Report looks into the roots of EL Education, and how it has grown to serve teachers and students across the country. The article includes interviews with Greg Farrell, EL Education's founding president, and leaders from across the EL Education network.

Here's an excerpt:

BOSTON — In 1963, Greg Farrell, an assistant dean of admissions at Princeton University, learned that an organization rooted in the teachings of a German educator was about to launch a wilderness training school in Colorado.

"I thought maybe they could use me," he recalled recently.

A year later, Farrell found himself on an arduous expedition in the Rocky Mountains with nine other people. Although Farrell considered himself to be fit, nothing had prepared him for this.

"I thought for the first week I was going to die," he says. But by the end of the second week, he found the experience "scintillating." Everyone worked together, there were no lectures and participants learned by making mistakes. "I thought, school ought to be like this. Couldn't you teach algebra this way? ... Couldn't you teach reading and writing this way?"

More than 50 years later, 152 schools in the EL (short for Expeditionary Learning) Education network are doing just that, and the network recently created a grades 3-8 curriculum that has been downloaded nearly 8 million times. The schools in the network have taken the principles that Farrell encountered in the Colorado wilderness and applied them to K-12 education around the country.

As Farrell, who helped found the organization that would become EL Education, pointed out, this does not mean thousands of American schoolchildren scampering up rock faces. Following in the footsteps of the wilderness training organization Outward Bound the schools that he and other developers envisioned aim to use real-life experiences to foster students' compassion and perseverance, so that they can work collaboratively to confront issues in their own lives, their schools, their communities and beyond. The challenges they face in school can take the form of a snowshoe trek in the wilderness or a performance in front of an audience.

Read the full story here.