A Visit From Down Under

07 November 2011

A Visit From Down Under

Sail Training International recently met with Dr John McWilliams, a Senior Lecturer from Deakin University near Melbourne, Australia and the Course Director for Masters of Contemporary Leadership to discuss the merits of using sail training to assist students on his course.

Dr McWilliams is keen to demonstrate how sail training can assist with leadership skills which is why he organised a voyage from Hobart to Melbourne on a ship called The One And All last year.

He explains: “It's well understood that sail training is a great way to develop youth leadership, but its also a wonderful tool for experiential learning about leadership in organisations. Living and working together on an eight-day voyage, my students are able to observe leadership acts at all levels as well as their own leadership and followership. They keep journals using video as well as paper and reflect on what they have observed to produce academic essays that critically appraise current thinking on leadership" 

 Dr McWilliams would like to encourage more use of sail training in leadership courses moving forward hence his visit to Sail Training International’s head office in the UK. He continues:

"A sailing ship provides all of the dynamics of organisation; systems, processes, interpersonal communication and the like. It can throw these things into sharp relief by stripping away all of the distractors present in a normal organisational life. Not only that but people from diverse backgrounds quickly develop a shared experience of the ship that facilitates discussion of the insights they gain. Feedback from the students is very positive. Numbers interested in this way of learning are growing and I personally am very excited about this way of teaching."

 A student from the voyage, Taraia Brown, 36 from Melbourne, who was also visiting the UK commented: “It was fantastic to experience eight days at sea, facing the elements and being so close to nature but at the same time putting our theory into practice from the course.  We were able to use different leadership styles and observe others as part of the ship’s system which would involve four hours of work followed by eight hours off and a debriefing session to provide the leader with feedback.”

 Sail Training International is looking forward to hearing about future voyages soon.


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