An edited version of this column was published in the NT Suns on September 12 2017
EXCURSIONS PROVIDE FOR KEY LEARNING
While most formal education takes place in classrooms, learning opportunities beyond the ‘four walls’ can add to student development. The part excursions play in furthering awareness should be appreciated.
Excursions extend normal teaching and learning contexts and are planned to support development and knowledge of the world beyond school boundaries.
In primary school, the child’s first extended educational experience may be an overnight camp at school. By the time children are in year 3 or 4, excursions often extend to provide for overnights of one or two days at places away from home. Berry Springs Wildlife Park is a top end example of where children camp and learn about animals, birds and nature.
Children in upper primary years may spend up to a week at the Batchelor Outdoor Education Centre, Outbound Adventure at Wallaroo (on the Arnhem Highway) or at similar places. These programs build confidence, introduce students to new skills and allow them to develop a sense of living that goes beyond the home. Sometimes exchanges between schools take place, with students being able to learn about other places in the Territory, for example Katherine, Jabiru and other Territory towns and communities.
In recent years, senior primary students have travelled interstate on extended excursion programs. One of the most popular destinations is Canberra where the War Museum, Parliament House, the National Art Gallery and other places of significance are visited. Education officers working in each place offer key learning and understanding opportunities. Some school groups, while down south, also visit Australia’s snow fields.
Destinations for some primary and secondary school excursion groups include overseas countries as near as Indonesia and as far away as Japan.
Excursions add value to learning, enabling students to extend their knowledge and understanding. After reading, visualising or being told about elements of the curriculum studied, they get to ‘live’ in these environments beyond home and school.
Learning outside the classroom enables students and staff to build on positive relationships. Often those participating come back to school with added appreciation and respect for each other. Excursions are exercises in team building. They certainly help those taking part to understand and know each other as people. They come at a cost to parents and often engage schools in fundraising. However, the value added to student learning outcomes makes the preparation and expenditure fully worthwhile.
Note: Extended excursions are often referred to as ‘camps’.