ELS's 10 design principles are the program's basic values for teaching. These are rooted in the Outward Bound experience and reflect the importance of the individual, of civic and personal responsibility, and of learning through activity. They are summarized here.
The following 10 design principles are the ELS belief system. Like any belief system, it is brought to life through practical action. This is the function of the five, very concrete, core practices. Together, these two systems inform the teaching and learning at RBCS and create an atmosphere that enables students to acknowledge and fulfill their potential.
The responsibility for learning: All aspects of school must encourage students and adults to take increasing responsibility for their own personal and collective learning.
I make choices that help me learn and do my best work.
Service and compassion: One of school's primary functions is to foster the ability and desire to learn from others and be of service to them.
I am aware of the needs of others and do great things for them.
The primacy of self-discovery: When presented with—and supported through—new and stimulating challenges, students discover their abilities and passions and understand their responsibilities.
I learn about myself and all that I can do by trying new things.
The having of wonderful ideas: A school community must respect ideas and build on students' curiosity with learning situations that offer time for thinking, reflection, and invention.
I think of new ideas and share them with others.
Empathy and caring: Learning is best fostered in small groups where there is trust, sustained caring, and mutual respect.
I think about people's feelings and help take care of others.
Success and failure: Students must experience success to develop confidence and some measure of failure to learn to overcome disabilities and prevail against adversity.
I learn from my mistakes and build on the things that I do well.
Collaboration and competition: Teaching should strengthen the importance of friendship, trust, and group endeavor, while focusing competition away from one another and toward each person's personal best.
I work with others to learn and complete a task. I push myself to do my personal best and keep improving.
Diversity and inclusivity: Keeping all learning groups diverse and inclusive increases the richness of ideas, creative power, problem-solving, and acceptance of others.
I learn about and respect different people and include everyone.
The Natural World: Students learn to become stewards of the Earth by establishing a respectful relationship with the natural world.
I care for and learn from nature.
Solitude and reflection: Students need solitary reflection time to make their own connections and create new ideas.
I take time by myself to think about what I have learned.