Youth development through tall ship sailing

When it comes to developing life skills such as teamwork, cooperation, self-regulation and resilience, a tall ship may be a perfect place.  Picture a group of people living and working in a confined space, isolated from civilisation, in an environment that is harsh, unpredictable, and unforgiving, with no easy means of escape.  This is learning outside your comfort zone at its most extreme.

“At sea, I learned how little a person needs, not how much.” – Robin Lee Graham.

In this research project, myself and a small team of researchers have been granted access to groups of young people from across the world who have come together to embark on tall ship sailing expeditions.  We have been able to tap into their unique learning experiences as they unfold, using candid research techniques such as the video diary room.

Through this research, we are answering questions such as:

  • What learning processes do young people go through during a voyage?
  • What is it about tall ship sailing that makes it an effective approach to youth development?
  • What transferrable skills do young people gain through such experiences?