Revising The Student-Teacher Dynamic

While adjusting to life without technology and other distractions, many students are surprised to meet me as their teacher. With either clinched fists or shrugged shoulders, students ask, “I have to do school work?” Although wilderness therapy provides time away from life as most teenagers know it, Deschutes Wilderness Therapy ( DWT ) understands that education must remain a constant theme in their lives.

Our academic program is just one of the many tools we use to build relationships and create self-worth. Time and time again we get to see faces light up, expressing, “I read the whole book! I never read books for school.” When we provide students with choices, consistent care, and individualized projects, we create a safe place for conversation and personal growth.

While meeting with a student who had just finished his 4th book at DWT, we started discussing his extremely defiant history and his inability to create meaningful connections with teachers. Once he had finished explaining his past struggles, he continued to describe his desire to go back to school. After he recently proved to himself that he could complete work, he wanted to show teachers his new ability to be respectful and productive.

We are always trying to create new perspectives in regards to the student- teacher dynamic and Adventure Education has been a wonderful tool to assist in this process. A recent caving experience provided the excitement and confidence a few students needed to stop submissively avoiding assignments. Even though each student followed through for themselves, the rapport built from the caving adventure created an interest for the students to share their success.

How students show up to school reflects how students show up to life and at DWT we use relationships to foster the change in how students show up. With most of our curriculum embedded into the daily structure of our program, clients have the opportunity to gain school credit in English, Physical Education, Health, and Environmental Science.

All the best,

Steve Goulding