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International Non-traditional Teaching
Initiative 2001 Expedition

In May an expedition comprised of 16 high school girls will attempt to climb a 6,222 meter (21,408 feet) mountain in South America as part of their graduation requirements. Fourteen of the students are from Oldfields, an independent school near Baltimore and two of the girls are from a public high school in San Francisco.

The International Non-traditional Teaching Initiative (INTI) 2001 Expedition, will attempt to climb Mount Chinchey, located in the Cordillera Blanca region of the Peruvian Andes. The effort is the brainchild of Ret Talbot, publications manager for Oldfields and an instructor with the National Outdoor Leadership School.

"When I work for NOLS, I realize just how important a blend of traditional and non traditional education is for one's growth and education," said Talbot. "I took some of the same principles that I learned and teach at NOLS and am applying them here in this expedition."

In fact, the expedition is deeply rooted in NOLS traditions and techniques. Several expedition members are current or former NOLS instructors or graduates. The climbing coordinators for the expedition are NOLS instructors Shari Kearney and Christine Lichtenfels, both accomplished mountaineers with a long history of climbing big mountains around the world. Additional NOLS connections include instructors Doug Grady and Michelle Smallman, who are undertaking much of the preliminary logistics work as well as scouting the route before the expedition takes place. An award-winning filmmaker, Justin Dittmer of Aspen, Colo., is also a former NOLS instructor. Dittmer will be filming the expedition. Finally, one of expedition faculty, Brad Bond, is a NOLS alum, as is student Gretel Stoudt.

The region that will be probed by the expedition is one of the highest mountain ranges in the world and will be an excellent classroom for the students. They will be pursuing a cross-curricular approach to cultural studies including the traditional disciplines of the humanities and social sciences. Classes include anthropology, communications, economics, history, language, literature, and sociology. Emphasis will be placed on the inter-connectiveness of various academic disciplines and the development of critical thinking skills necessary to address problems originating from the interaction of diverse cultures. In the math and science curriculum, students will use mathematics to model, analyze, and interpret complex problems presented in topics of the traditional sciences and in research. Through the expedition's relationship with leading medical and sports medicine technology companies such as Datex-Ohmeda, students will be using advanced technology on the mountain to study the effects of altitude on the human body. Student expedition members will receive high school credit upon successful completion of the expedition.

Through satellite communication, the expedition will be working to extend the scope of its educational impact to affiliate schools throughout the United States. Students at affiliate schools will follow the expedition through still photography, and written reports prepared daily by the girls on the mountain. Students will interact with the expedition via e-mail. The long term goal is to make the revolutionary INTI curriculum available to teachers around the world who see the value of experientially-based, progressive educational practices in today's rapidly changing world.

The expedition has been endorsed by Bancroft Arnesen Explore, a group formed by Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen, who were the first women to cross Antarctica on skis. Their expedition culminated in January. Both women are serving as mentors for the young ladies on the expedition.

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