EXPLO at Wheaton: Charles Frost On 'Going Beyond The Fence'

October 27, 2017

During the summer, Charles Frost is a Residence Director in the Dean's Office at EXPLO at Wheaton. During the regular academic year, Charles works in public relations for Debate Mate Jamaica, a program that utilizes civil discourse to develop communication and interpersonal skills.

Here, we talk to him about his experience at EXPLO and the 'going beyond the fence' opportunities that attracted him to the organization.

Our interview with Charles has been condensed and lightly edited.


I grew up in a single parent household in the middle of Jamaica. My mother offered me a great deal of freedom to define myself, shape my character, you know, decide for myself what sort of person I wanted to be. Looking back on that experience as an adult now, I find it admirable that my mother chose that environment to raise us in, especially when she was raising three children absolutely alone. 

Going beyond the fence is so important because children develop their view of the world almost entirely through their experiences. I think that the wider those experiences are, the greater degree maturing and learning occurs.

It’s admirable, I think, because when you give a child the opportunity to find themselves in that way, you give that child permission to go ‘beyond’ the fence of their backyard. Those adventures are the ones that taught my siblings and I how to discover. Learn. Experiment for ourselves. The thing I didn't realize was how much trust was required from my mother to do that. I feel like my mother was very brave to offer that freedom to her children. It taught me as an educator that being brave comes from both sides — parent and child, teacher and student.

Going beyond the fence is so important because children develop their view of the world almost entirely through their experiences. I think that the wider those experiences are, the greater degree maturing and learning occurs.

At EXPLO, this exposure happens in and outside of class. It was a big reason why I was so interested in the organization — I immediately was drawn to their mission.  Encouraging students to be hands-on, where students are not just introduced to an idea, but are engaging, smelling, seeing, reacting to it? The mission directly defined all of my 'beyond the fence' moments. I just love how many different experiences students are exposed to here.

I think a perfect example of this breadth of exposure at EXPLO comes from a class like Wilderness Survival. The class might discuss what causes water to boil. The students go boil water on a stove in a kitchen, and then proceed to head outside and boil water on a wood fire. They discover 'Woah. it’s the principle of heat that causes it to boil, not just the stove or the flame. And any space where that is possible, that chemical interaction can occur!' And then a student from Saudi Arabia might discuss their electric burner in their kitchen or a child from the United States might discuss the coal they use to keep their house warm. It's amazingly fun to see children make connections in and out of the classroom. By talking to each other, they learn about their peers' experiences and discoveries —  widening their own understanding of the world.

By Stephanie LaMont

Tag: EXPLO at Wheaton

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