Sunday, 29 April 2012

Out of District: Student Travel Revisited

Years ago I was teaching an English 10 class about Shakespeare's London. Its one of my favorite lessons, and I thought I was really bringing 16th century London to life, when one student stopped the discussion short.  "Why don't we just go there", the student asked. "We could see England for ourselves". I explained that aside from the fact that modern London was very different from what I was describing, it would cost a lot of money to just up and take one's class to Europe. By the end of the week twelve students had decided they wanted to go. They found a tour company, raised the funds and approached me to be the teacher sponsor for their trip. Our principal pitched their proposal to the school board and the result was a trip of a lifetime to see London and Stratford first hand.

As I mentioned back in January, student travel is definitely worth the effort! The benefits far outweigh the reasons not to go.  Travel frees the mind and provides students with first hand experiences far beyond anything they can see on tv, find online or read in books. There really is no substitute for being there. Brightspark (Simplifying Student Travel) illustrates this point, listing 10 reasons why teachers should definitely consider traveling with students. 

SD 60 students have journeyed to Japan, Europe, Africa and South America. This past week I had the pleasure of chaperoning our secondary gifted program students on a trip to China. Returning with the class from Beijing it was easy to see the positive impact the trip has had on our students. Such trips provide experiences above and beyond the benefits of traditional instruction. Students return to share their stories with family, friends and classmates, and become live learning resources. Travel provides real life experience that can't help but broaden a student's perspective on on other countries and cultures.  

The BC Ministry of Education agrees. This year Minister of Education George Abbott traveled to China. In addition to working on bringing more Chinese students to British Columbia, the minister is seeking to create more opportunities for B.C. students to study in China, and to expand the network of B.C.-certified schools in China. Our trip last week was an educational tour, but the day is quickly coming when SD 60 students may be headed to China on learning exchanges. Earlier this year SD 60 Superintendent Larry Espe accompanied other BC superintendents to China in an effort to further develop and strengthen ties between the two regions.

St. Augustine wrote "The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." Here's hoping the future brings our students many opportunities to turn as many pages as possible!

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