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Transition, change and uncertainty. This is the world we live in – and there are no signs that we will be changing direction any time soon. Successfully navigating life in the 21st century requires a willingness to embrace change and adapt to new situations. To do this boys need the confidence, emotional intelligence, knowledge and skills to be able to handle the ever-changing landscape.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Charles Darwin

Experiential education lends itself well to teaching adaptability to boys as it builds confidence and experience in real world settings. Here’s how to teach boys to be adaptable and take risks.

Develop security and trust

It’s important to offer boys challenging, confidence building experiences in a managed and mentored environment. This must be done consistently and in stages to develop trust. It’s vital to pitch learning experiences at whatever stage the boys are at otherwise you risk shaking their confidence without building trust. By developing security and trust consistently, boys will develop the confidence needed to face future risk, and indeed become more adaptable. Parents can start doing this from a young age by structuring activities to have an element of exploration and risk taking. Over time, boys will develop a sense of self-assurance and become more secure in transitions and unexpected change.

Build experience, shared risk and enthusiasm

Once boys become more secure in their ability to handle the unexpected, they can be challenged further with shared risk taking. With structured group learning experiences, boys will feel safer to share in the risk taking and learn from their peers. Activities should be structured carefully and supervised carefully. Another benefit of shared risk taking is the concept of safety in numbers – boys will feel more assured with their friends or siblings sharing the experience with them. Working with others will also fuel their enthusiasm for taking risks and embracing change.

Overcome challenges in real world settings

At this stage, boys have sufficiently developed the skills and self knowledge to know their limits and capabilities. Now that they are equipped with the confidence, experience, enthusiasm and skills, you will find them more willing to embrace challenges head on. In fact, boys can truly excel in the face of adversity if they have the past experience of successfully navigating the unknown.

Boys need to be equipped with the right tools over time to become adaptable and embrace risk taking. Approached consistently and in the right way will ensure that boys have the best chance of success in our constantly changing world.

Learn how our Glengarry campus teaches boys to realise their inner strengths by downloading a copy of our brochure.

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The Presbyterian Church (New South Wales) Property Trust T/A The Scots College, Sydney Australia
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William Elder


Mr Alan Elder was born in Scotland and migrated to Australia with his parents at a young age. He attended The Scots College for all his schooling, graduating in 1944. He played 1st XI Cricket and was a member of the College Cadet Unit. After leaving school Mr Elder studied accountancy and retained a life-long love of the College, especially the Pipes and Drums. Mr Elder never married, however the significant bequest he left will allow his Scots family to remember him through the Lang Walker Business Centre.