Model of Education: Real Science in the Hands of the learner

Our programs foster a sense of wonder, understanding and connection to the natural world through playful, outdoor, scientific inquiry. Our instructors are well-trained, practiced, professional educators, which means we never rely on canned or scripted lessons. Instead, we work with students to deliver memorable experiences that are always authentic and often totally spontaneous. 

Constructivism We rely heavily on the Constructivist Theory of Learning to conduct transformative education. We think - and research shows - real authentic learning occurs only when students are encouraged to construct complex ideas for themselves in ways that are deeply and uniquely personal. The result is a kind of tailor-made educational experience that creates real and lasting growth through a focus on sensory awareness, imagination, and systems thinking that is transferable between content areas.

Storytelling Story is the oldest and most powerful form of education because it embeds universal principles in particular events, and because it gives shape to the chaos of our imaginations. At Kestrel we have adapted the mechanics of storytelling - narrative, setting, character, conflict, resolution - to help teachers and students alike make sense of complicated ideas rooted in firsthand real world experiences. The creation of ecosystem maps, nature films and field guides are but a few examples of the stories our students tell to make the world a little more comprehensible.

Adventure The hallmark of a great adventure is that you have no idea what is going to happen next. Though our instructors take great pride in thoroughly preparing for each program, we never plan the outcome, which we believe should happen naturally and spontaneously, drawing on the unique qualities of the landscape and the particular interests, questions, and experiences of the students who participate. At Kestrel you learn to expect the unexpected.

Play Playfulness is the fullest expression of our natural drive to explore, engage and connect with the natural world. When children freely engage in play, they learn new things, develop key social and emotional skills, feel part of a community and take on new challenges. No Kestrel program is complete without joy and laughter.

Place The study of place is by definition interdisciplinary. It takes as its subject the entire landscape and everything in it. Practitioners of place-based education embrace the connections between things and are not afraid to combine science with art or social studies with mathematics. At Kestrel we think this is the right approach, not only because we prefer an interdisciplinary approach, but because in an increasingly digitized and globalized world, we think it is increasingly important to study places close at hand before studying places far away.  

Inquiry At Kestrel we think questions are more important than answers. Our instructors are not afraid to explore what they do not yet know, and, as a result, they work hard to create a space in the world where students feel comfortable to ask truly original questions as a springboard to make truly original discoveries. 

"Kestrel, You're forging the good path into the woods." - DAVID SOBEL