Field Courses and “First-Hand” Learning

Tim Breen, Ph.D., Head of School
What better place to study Buddhism than at a Zen monastery?
What better place to do wilderness writing than immersed in the beauty of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom?
What better way to learn about poverty and social justice in the developing world than by working alongside community leaders in the Dominican Republic?
What better place to study plant and vertebrate physical and physiological adaptations to winter than on the shoulder of Mount Washington?
Our whole school heads out on Field Course today. Students and teachers will be learning in environments as diverse as Mount Washington, The Dominican Republic, the Berkshires, and Paris, France.
Our field course program takes us out of the classroom to learn in authentic locations. This is first-hand learning at its best. Students learn not by reading about what others have done, but by direct engagement. When designing a field course, we decide what the topic will be, then ask: where is the best place to learn this?
When I look back at my own schooling, what stands out is the first-hand learning. The times that I was in the field – seeing with my own eyes, touching with my own hands. Of course we do a lot of this in our regular courses at White Mountain, but Field Course is a time when we can be fully immersed in the learning environment.
Field Course also allows students to make real contributions to the world. This week they will be doing service work in Boston and in the Dominican Republic. They will develop leadership skills to bring back to our school and their home communities through our leadership ropes course. They will be contributing to an on-line history project exploring and studying ski areas that used to dot the landscape of small-town New England (
We are lucky to be able to engage students in this type of learning through our field course program – first-hand learning that makes the world a better place.

See a list of our spring field courses here.

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