Field Trips Policy

Definition

Field trips are an important dimension to learning. All students are expected to participate in planned co-curricular activities such as the extramural opportunities inspired by the Primary Years Programme (PYP) and the Diploma Programme (DP) in the Secondary School. An ARIS field trip is an extension of our teaching and learning, scheduled during the semester, led by a Faculty member who has overall responsibility. It involves a group of students and, in addition to the leader, other Faculty members and responsible adults, as may be appropriate to the activity.

Scope and Purpose

Starting in the PYP, continuing through Secondary School 1, and in 2 via the DP, field trips, excursions and camps enable students to make purposeful connections between their programmes of study, the local community and the world outside the classroom. Stepping outside the comfortable environs of the school, the students actively become more inquisitive and more open-minded. Linking the outside world to the curriculum compels students to reflect on their existing knowledge and to find new ways to communicate. With the supervising teacher’s guidance, they discover within themselves, articulate and express the psychosocial attributes of the Learner Profile. They build their world; intellectually, emotionally and socially.

It is commonly held that we need physical exercise to become and stay fit and healthy. Our intellectual fitness and wellbeing also require exercise. Field trips provide students with an opportunity to reinforce and integrate their academic, social and emotional development beyond the scope of what the classroom can afford. Students can promote their own learning through direct application of the abstract, theoretical concepts and the academic knowledge acquired in the classroom to the tangible, outside world. And see the consequences.

Well-planned and effectively conducted field trips are an intrinsic element of teaching and learning at ARIS. Not only are they a means of deepening and broadening students' grasp of curriculum content, they also exercise and develop students' intelligences.

If cognitive intelligence is defined as the ability to adapt to diverse contexts or to deal with novel information (Sternberg), then the extra-mural opportunities of field trips will provide diverse and novel contexts in abundance. Students' capacity to understand and come to terms with new situations, to understand and come to terms with the people who inhabit those new situations and generate their dynamic, will be challenged and tested. In doing so, the students' life-experience will be extended in ways impossible in the classroom; students may discover that their prejudices and attitudes previously unquestioned are being dislodged by fresh perspectives stemming from vivid personal experience. They will make links to the ‘real’ world, finding themselves in ‘Real Life Situations’. Of necessity, they will adapt to and deal with novel circumstances.

Similarly, our youngsters’ emotional intelligence, by which is meant the ability to control emotional reactions and 'read' the emotional signals of others (Goleman), may also be exercised more vigorously outside the classroom. Indoors, the learning process may predominantly demand reserve; the diligent, focused and calm concentration necessary to the analysis, manipulation and synthesis of ideas. Interacting with new people, however, perhaps people of widely different ages, backgrounds and occupations from those a student might usually meet, exposes huge potential in the affective domain. Emotions are stirred from the moment of introduction to the Other, greeting them in accordance with their custom (or not), mutually deciding by what means, on what topics and in what tone of voice to initiate a dialogue. Friend or foe?

Thirdly, the exercise and development of moral intelligence has been described as cultivating in students a strong sense of right and wrong; youngsters becoming people who are willing to act on that sense even when it may run counter to self-interest (Coles). Perhaps it is in this domain where the links between the learning outcomes of field trips and the attributes of the IB Learner Profile are strongest. It may be in the domain of moral intelligence where the differences encountered, that is, the differences between unexamined values sustained through habit and on the other hand, the shock of the new, are the most striking and unsettling to the moral equilibrium.

Outcomes

An ARIS field trip should have clearly served an educational purpose, corresponding with one or more of the academic (such as PYP, IGCSE and DP) and/or co-curricular programmes (such as the DP Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) requirement). Consequently, educational aims and objectives (learning outcomes) should have been explicit and basic considerations of every field trip, from the initial planning stage, throughout the conduct of the trip, to the subsequent follow-up. The trip leader, his or her adult colleagues and, above all, the participating students should be able to specify and articulate what was learned.

A successful field trip should be a celebration of the multi-faceted nature of the learning process. It will have explored the opportunities and freedoms of the open spaces beyond the confines of the campus. Released from the placid and sedentary behaviours of the classroom or lab, the student should have exercised and developed such attributes of his or her learner profile as may have previously been constrained. If a key aim at ARIS is 'to develop internationally minded people who, recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world', then the attitudes, skills and actions necessary to realise that aim will often be learned and practised outside the school gates. On graduation, that is where they go.