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TEDxDirigo: RISE State Theatre, Portland, Maine

Claire Hirschmann Making learning and life indistinguishable

  • 2012

Claire Hirschmann is co-founder of The Field Academy, based in Portland, Maine.

In 1996, Claire and her parents spent five months exploring Europe in a VW camper. Her literature course was a study of classic abandoned texts from old bookstores. History class was an examination of surroundings as she explored Olympia, World War I trenches, Auschwitz, Dachau, and the site of the Berlin Wall. Social studies was an immersion in conversation and observation as she talked to a Hungarian peasant about transition from Communism, lived with a rural Swedish family, and watched devout pilgrims celebrate at the Camino de Santiago.

Claire learned what it felt like to be sparked by something, to feel the prick of desire to learn something more. Some of the best learning happened at the most unexpected moments, and some of the best teaching came from the most unlikely people. That experience led to her devotion to learning, adventuring, and leading.

At Yale University, she was involved in Community Health Educators with high school students and co-directed the Freshman Outdoor Orientation Trips. After Yale, Claire worked at a dude ranch; spent several months in the National Outdoor Leadership School’s Outdoor Education semester; and apprenticed at the High Mountain Institute in Leadville, Colorado. She also spent two years as a teacher and one year as the Academic Program Director at the Traveling School.

Claire has a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and studied citizenship at the Tufts Summer Institute of Civic Studies.