I Can

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We have all seen – and if we are honest, felt- the power of an inner monologue that whispers “I can’t.” It’s an overwhelming feeling that all too often brings would-be learning experiences and opportunities for growth to a sudden halt.

How do we break the power of this student success barrier? One solution, championed by Thompson Island Outward Bound and our partner organizations within Boston’s 5th Quarter Initiative, is to provide MORE learning opportunities for students in under resourced neighborhoods. The more opportunities students have to learn, the more their idea of what learning is can expand, replacing fear and fixed thinking with confidence, resilience, and a mindset rooted in the belief: “I CAN.”

Nine years of third party research on Thompson Island Outward Bound programs have shown that expanded learning opportunities expand minds. We’ve seen that when students have access to quality after school and summer education, they engage with STEM in new ways and discover career options they didn’t know existed. In addition, having access to expanded learning opportunities helps students learn about themselves, teaching them how they learn and impressing upon them how capable they truly are.

As Ulrich Boser wrote for the Harvard Business Review, “learners are made, not born.” Expanded learning opportunities, like those that take place on Thompson Island, change how students think about and experience learning. Suddenly, learning can be more than something that only happens in school. It can be more than the scores they receive on quizzes or standardized tests. In students’ minds, learning can become associated with inquiry and problem solving.

On Thompson Island Outward Bound, we have found that…

when students can experience learning in school, after-school, outside of school, or on the job…

when students are allowed to try, and fail, and try again…

when outcomes are tied to discovery, exploration, and teamwork…

...then, students are able to tap into a mindset of “I CAN” – a growth mindset, a strong, resilient mental state that will help them reach achievements they may never have imagined.

We are committed to providing Boston public school students free, hands-on field science experiences that are steeped in Outward Bound’s tradition of social-emotional learning and growth. And we are proud to join other organizations like Boston After School and Beyond, The United Way, and the National Park Service, in promoting diverse extended learning opportunities for students all across the city of Boston. It is our hope that together we can transform our city itself into a classroom for all.

You too can be a part of providing extended learning opportunities in Boston’s under resourced communities. Let your support of these organizations and Thompson Island Outward Bound be its own statement of “I can” – a gift and commitment to breaking the barriers of “I can’t” that hold us all back.

Learn More About How You Can Support Thompson Island Outward Bound