KOR Developmental Framework
Knowledge on the Run utilizes David Kolb’s Experiential Education Cycle (Experience, Reflect, Abstract Conceptualization, Active Experimentation) with our own unique spin, to make it relevant to both travel-based education and our student’s age group. We first Frame our activity, regardless of what we’re doing, we let students know what we hope they get out of the experience. We Disrupt, meaning we take students outside of their comfort zones. By choosing unique travel destinations as our classrooms we are causing a “disruptive moment” in the minds of our students, which results in a highly absorbent mental state that is optimal for learning. Our students then Engage fully in the lesson or the activity. Once the lesson/activity is over, we come together to Discuss as a group. Lat-er in the evening, the studetns travel journal, allowing time for Reflection on the student’s experience. The next day, we implement the Socratic Teaching Method, where we encourage our students to teach back to us and other members of the group what they personally found most valuable in the lesson/activity.
Social & Emotional Learning
Breakthroughs in the field of Positive Psychology have shown us that we have yet to understand the complexities of peak performance. Science as a whole has always been tiered towards the average. Removing outliers so that data sets are expressive of a general population group. Dr. Shawn Achor, a leading researcher and author in Positive Psychology out of Harvard University, came to the remarkable realization and became determined to change what we studied. He chose not to study the average or the characteristics that can bring people from poor psychological health to average psychological health. Dr. Achor studied the outliers, the peak performers, those people that went through life with a seemingly impenetrable shield of armor for any of the trials or tribulations that life would ultimately throw their way.
What Dr. Achor found, was that Happiness is the main factor precluding peak performance. The old adage of “Work hard, then you’ll be happy” is wrong and needs to be replaced with the much more accurate phrase of “Be happy and then you’ll work hard.” Dr. Achor defines happiness as “the joy one feels striving for one’s potential” in his book The Happiness Advantage. At Knowledge on the Run, we aim to help young students begin their journey towards striving for their fullest potential.
Throughout his research, Dr. Achor concluded many of the ideas that we implement in our Experiential Learning Abroad programs at Knowledge on the Run. One of the main takeaways is the value of positive reflection. Dr. Achor completed a study in which a research team had participants self-evaluate to determine where they fit on a spectrum of Pessimist to Optimist (both mild or severe). Then, the participants would undertake a simple task such as writing down three things they were grateful for every day, for 21 days. At the end of the experiment, the results were profound. Simply taking the time out of every day to write down three things that they were grateful for, shifted their outlook. Many pessimists evolved into a more optimistic perspective, seeing the world now as full of opportunities instead of roadblocks. On all of our programs students are expected to reflect about their day and are asked to write down daily three gratitudes. The base idea is that if you know that you are going to be writing down three things you’re grateful for at the end of the day, you begin to filter your day searching for positivity to write about later that day.
Dr. Achor also employs a variety of other practices that can begin the development of positive personal narratives, strong positive habits, and the skills necessary to navigate the world. During our programs, we have several discussions geared toward developing these strong positive personal narratives and habits. The discussion topics we cover relative to personal narratives include growth mindsets, the value of exercise, the value of mindfulness, how to infuse positivity into your surroundings, and the value of giving back. The discussion topics we cover relative to positive habit building include The 20-second rule (the idea that you should add 20-seconds of effort to starting a task that you see as a bad habit and remove 20-seconds from the energy taken to start a task deemed a positive habit. i.e. removing the batteries for the TV remote and putting the book you’re reading out on the coffee table in plain sight instead of on the shelf), the value of social support networks, decision-making processes, and process-oriented goal setting.