Sea History 042 - Winter 1986-1987

Page 34

The Educational Uses of Sail Training Vessels Conference by Lincoln Paine

If there was ever any doubt about what impact the new Sailing School Vessels Act will have on sail-training programs in the United States , that doubt has been dispelled. More than eighty participants at a conference on the educational uses of sail training vessels held this September have shown that the Act is of great significance. Sponsored by the Ocean Schools Foundation in Durham, New Hampshire, in conjunction with the American Sail Training Association and the Sailing Schools Vessel Council , the conference attracted not only many fami liar faces fro m the sail training community, but a surprising number of high-school and college educators eager to explore the potential use of sailing vessels as classrooms. While many of the presentations examined how existing programs are implemented and how (and what) new programs should be developed, debate throughout the two-day meeting foc ussed on the problems inherent in adapting traditional classroom education to a shipboard environment. Common to all such programs are the physical limitations imposed by the ship itself. These range from the amount of space available for classes, the amount of time available to students who are also engaged in the running of the ship , the dual regimen of being at once student and

" Montauk" Oil on canvas

crew-as well as the separate authorities of the captain and the teacher-and the high cost of such programs. To date, the overwhelming majority of successful accredited shipboard education programs have been those with an oceanographic or scientific foc us. This is largely due to the acceptability of such programs in the eyes of the traditional , landbased , education community for whom the benefits of such programs are selfevident. For proponents of non-scienti fic instruction aboard sail-training vessels, a major obstacle to securing course accreditation (and participation) is establishing the feas ibility of using sailing vessels as the milieu for the teaching of other curricula such as both landside and marine archaeology, naval architecture, history and literature. Captain Rafe Parker of SEA's Westward anticipated thi s problem when he remarked that " We are still hanging on to the scientific end until we can break through to the real world of Liberal arts." Matching educational programs with sai l training vessels and vice versa promises to occupy a large part of the discussions within the sail training community and between sail training instructors and educators fo r some time. But optimism is running high in both communities and

by Antonio Jacobsen, 1890 22"x36"

9th Annual Marine Exhibition January 17-March 7

Smith Gallery 1045 Madison Avenue at 79th Street, New York 10021 Tues.-Sat. 11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. (212) 744-6171

Portfolio Catalogue $10.00


in the first year of the Sailing School Vessels Act a lot has been accompli shed that bodes well for a productive future for sail training and shipboard education. A brochure listing all ships offering educational programs next summer to the public is now available from ASTA. Six prog ra ms are open to the general public; sixteen programs are being offered in conjunction wi th other educational programs. For a free brochure, contact: Ki rsten L. Mann American Sail Training Association 365 Thames St., Newport, RI 02840 40 1 846- 1775

Editorial We are coming up to the 14th Annual Meeting of the American Sail Training Association as this SEA HISTORY goes to press. Much has changed in the world of sail training and sea experience programs s ince the Association first came togethe r in the snowy winter of 1972-73 . In a recent letter to members, our Chairman , Harry H. Anderson, Jr., summarized the salient accomplishments in the world of sail training in the past decade-accomplishments on which ASTA will be building successfully in the years ahead: ''First, at the finest sail training facility and program of any, bar none, naval acade my-the US Naval Academy Sailing Squadron--crui se credit is now awarded fo r structured training under sail. Second , the Secretary of the Navy has recognized the value of sail -training by calling fo r the construction of a squ are-rigger to prov ide sea experience fo r officers and enlisted personnel. Third , sail training and educational programs are tending to coalesce , such as the Californian working with the public school system, the highl y structured Outward Bound marine programs, and the marine biology or oceanographic courses conduc ted under sail. " The Annual Sail Training Confe rence, whic h has become a fixture for all who are interested in the experiential realities of the seafaring heritage, will have been held well before thi s SEA HISTORY is out. But it is sure that what is reported and decided there will go on answering the challenges of the seafaring experience and ope ning it to more people . Much that has changed in the world of actu al experience and solid education in the rough and sometimes dangerous pl ay ing fields of the open sea has been achie ved because the American Sail Training Association exists . Let us encourage its ex istence by subscription and contribution. PETER STAN FORD Trustee, ASTA