This article was updated on 16 November 2018. You can read the updated version of 9 Common Benefits of International School Travel here.
From our experience students and teachers alike have a great time on our school group tours. Not only is it a fun and a hugely memorable time, there are constant opportunities for students to expand their own individual tacit knowledge crucial to higher level learning and problem solving skills. Students take what they’ve learnt back into everyday life and this impacts them for months and years to come!
We know though that there are times when teachers such as yourself sigh at the idea of organising an opportunity like this. The primary focus becomes more about policy, paperwork and the potential cost rather than the educational benefits. We understand that there is a lot of time and effort spent picking the right program, hosting parent nights, getting the sign-off from your school, managing all your students in the airport, and making sure the trip itself is going to run smoothly. Believe us when we tell you though, it is 100% worth all the time and effort that goes in to a school group tour.
EA aim to make all this organising a breeze for you however, for those moments, when you need to remember why taking students out of the classroom is such a good idea, here are our top 9 benefits for taking your students on a school trip:
1. Improves critical thinking skills
Global citizenship is fast becoming a hot topic and society is looking to schools to prepare its students for the future, particularly in regards to teaching problem solving, soft-skills and preparing students for millennial jobs that currently don’t exist or didn’t 10 years ago. This is a big ask for teachers with limited resources and time. With this in mind, teachers are looking for dynamic ways to introduce this into their curriculum however the tried and tested school trip continues to prove itself an effective way to incorporate the soft-skills such as strong communication, problem solving and critical thinking into teaching.
2. Experiential learning takes place
The classroom is an effective simulation of the real world however experiential learning argues that when learning is shifted into to a real-life situation it becomes more powerful in individuals. This supports the idea that in order to prepare students effectively for life we need to give them memorable experiences such as an international school trip.
3. Student's worldview is expanded
Embarking on educational tours, and submerging students into cultural experiences have been found to be invaluable for development and understanding. It is a perspective that cannot be taught, only experienced for oneself. As I’m sure you’re aware, it is hard to impart a passion for learning languages, understanding another culture or teaching why current world affairs is important to your students in the classroom alone. Travelling, and visiting a country different from one’s own can trigger ideas and solutions that may not stem from familiar comforts and habits.
4. Reinforces classroom material
Going to important historical landmarks and great museums gives students the opportunity to visualise, experience and discuss the topics they study in order to gain greater understanding. Not only will students recall the experience long after the trip, they may start to develop historical empathy, contextualising historical actions and understanding people of the past. This gives them a deeper understanding of people, places and situations which in turn can teach students critical thinking in their own life.
5. Greater bond between students and teachers
Getting to know your students more throughout the trip is a great way to build strong rapport with them. You will reap the benefits of this for the rest of the teaching year. Students who have a personal connection with their teachers are more motivated and connected to what they are being taught.
6. Learning local culture
I was amazed when I first heard that it was uncustomary in Japan to eat while walking along the street. I thought, surely it must not be closely adhered to. I needed to go there for myself to truly understand the local culture there and see how something as simple as don’t walk and eat played out in a place so unlike my own home. This is just one example of experiencing something first hand and how much it can enrich your perspective. Living in a different local culture even for a short time is a great way to enrich understanding. Not only that but it’s fun!
7. Students are encouraged to learn
Often educational tours use multimedia to visually grab attention and encourage students to partake in an enjoyable learning experience. However, in the classroom these exposed sensors may be limited. For example, students would retain more information from a NASA tour in Florida, where all sensors are exposed - over a powerpoint slide lesson in the classroom.
8. Helps those students who learn by doing
I’m sure you’ve all heard those age old qualms that not everyone was ‘made for school’ or ‘school just didn’t suit them’. Switching up the environment and bringing these types of students out of the classroom and into the real world can be a great way to spark their interest. Take advantage of the informal learning situation and ignite passion in those who learn by ‘doing’.
9. Lifelong memories are made
When in a new environment, the students will need to work as a team with other classmates outside of their normal group. Not only that, but they make lifelong memories among peers, which is no doubt a fun learning experience in itself.
All in all, we hope you can picture the exciting times to be had on your very own school group tour with your students. All the preparing is well worth the benefits gained during the trip and beyond. And don’t forget your own (mini) holiday in an amazing country along the way too…