Borrowing from Outward Bound

In 1993 I haunted the corridors of the Rockland, Maine based Hurricane Island Outward Bound School hoping to land a job as an instructor. I happened upon the ‘real’ secret of the adventure educator. A scrap of paper pinned to a bulletin board read:

The following answers will suffice for 95% of all student questions:

  1. No.
  2. What do you think?
  3. Drink more water.
  4. Ask your navigator.
  5. What does that tell you about yourself?

The remaining 5% of questions will require actual thought.

In the summer of 1994, I had to choose between a position with the Florida Outward Bound program and Hyde School. The rest is history, but I still refer back to the five simple answers that create challenges that deepen student understanding. I share the wisdom each summer as the faculty embarks on the great educational adventure that is Hyde School Summer Challenge.

However, these answers are not just for our students. I too must remember to drink more water. I must remember to ask my children and my students “What do you think?” before I tell them what I think. I must remember to push the students in my classes to seek direction from student leaders. Asking the question, “What does that tell you about yourself?” is probably a greater gift for a loved one or friend than the best advice. As for “No”… well that answer can help all of us in so many ways if it is the truth.