Richard Light, distinguished professor at Harvard University, author of Making the Most of College, and founder of How To Live Wisely — a program that aims to strengthen student experiences on undergraduate campuses — discusses how taking chances helps one develop healthy habits of mind and being.
Light reminds us that encouraging elementary and middle schoolers to strike a balance between trying new things and taking new risks is just as important as encouraging adults, deep-seeded in routine, to do the same. For Light, that’s playing basketball every week with his colleagues and friends.
What’s better than knowing — at any age — that you should still be asking yourself, “why not give it a try?”
I think instilling that simple idea — in a nine-, eleven-, or twelve-year-old — which is "Give it a try! And you know, if you are no good at it, it’s not the end of the world. This is not a test." is so great. I think that instills habits of healthy mind and life, and I really think that is a wonderful thing.
ABOUT TAKING CHANCES
At EXPLO, we encourage the pursuit of lifelong learning — which means we are constantly doing our own studying up, reading on, or relearning the concepts that we teach throughout the summer. Here are some really interesting (and some just fun) links that we've been recently reading on taking chances.
“Somewhere along the way, I guess I got used to accepting risk because it was the only way to feel alive.” An interview with MIT-trained engineer, John Maeda.
Fear causes you to overestimate risk. Absence of fear causes you to underestimate risk. Here, INC. talks about how to find the right balance.
- Who knew ABBA’s infamous “Take A Chance On Me” song was inspired by lead singer Björn Ulvaeus's running hobby?
Looking at things from a scientific perspective can place a rationale behind trying something out — and what better way than with a Neil Degrasse Tyson demonstration?
- A preoccupation with safety has stripped childhood of discovery. The Atlantic on redesigning the 21st century playground.
Who said you couldn’t be 75 to win the Olympics? Beautiful graphic art by Sacha Goldberger of old people playing basketball.
The biggest reason an N.F.L. coach may shy away from the two-point conversion is a fear of failing — even though statistics say that that very play gives you the greatest chance of winning the game
Flex your risk-taking muscles by deciding whether to stay in the cave or win more treasure in a quest for riches board game, Incan Gold
At EXPLO, showing without telling takes many shapes, forms, exercises, and events. Just a few EXPLO experiences that encourage students to take chances at EXPLO include:
- Course: In Economics + Ethics of the Stock Market,track actual stock activity as you learn how interest rates, rates of return, stock dividends, and labor markets affect risk-analysis (grades 8+9)
- Workshop: With hundreds of different techniques to help manage stress, including yoga, biofeedback, and tai chi, learn how to keep your mind and body healthy in Stress Management Techniques (grades 10-12)
- Clubs, Leagues + Activities: Have you ever spear-headed your own club? We love to see students trying something new —and just as much, we love when students bring something new to campus. This summer, start a club for students to join during independent time. (grades 8+9, 10-12)
- Workshop: Brave the slopes around Peacock Pond as you navigate the physics of momentum and velocity in Street Luge (grades 4-7)
- Main Event: Find the courage to stand up for what you believe in at Take a Stand Night — an annual Main Event where more than 200 students come together to talk about the anti-bullying (grades 8+9)
- Weekend Trip: On the weekend, head over to Parkour, where you'll test your bravery with leaps and bounds over "skyscrapers" and under tunnels — after walking away with a little more confidence than when you came (grades 4-7)
- Course: When you explore the psychology behind the foundations of fear, you’ll be able to better understand how to overcome it. Learn about the biological and chemical reasoning of panic in Science of Fear.
This is all part of the EXPLO curriculum, where students come for a transformative summer camp experience.
Like this content? Subscribe now and receive weekly emails in your inbox every Friday morning with our Philosophy Friday content.
Stephanie LaMont + Adam French