Schooling should not be limited to the classroom or in-school activities. Students need to be given the opportunity to interact with surroundings outside their school. For that reason, many schools that adopt an international curriculum include field trips as a part of the school’s learning program to stimulate thinking and creative skills in the students.
Participating in such outings is indeed stimulating as students can enrich their experience beyond the confines of the school.
Chen Yuhong, school director at Global Nusantara, believes that field trips teach students to be independent and to build teamwork. “In addition to nurturing relationships among their peers, students are refreshed through creative activities that inspire innovation, leadership skills and kinetic abilities.”
More importantly, Chen added, field trips provide an ideal opportunity for both teachers and students to develop trust and to get to know one another. He cites a recent field trip where elementary school students at Global Nusantara engaged in various activities during a two-day outing in Puncak.
The outing is more than just a picnic. Despite their young age, the students engaged in a discussion on how to set academic goals, Chen explained. “We had a guest speaker to motivate the students on goal setting in addition to getting them involved in fun activities like morning exercise and yoga.”
Vivianne Widjaja, a parent of a Grade 3 student at Global Nusantara expressed satisfaction with the school’s outing program. “The kids always enjoy this kind of activity. A field trip not only makes a child happier but also gives him or her fresh ideas. Field trips refresh children’s minds resulting in positive constructive changes in their academic pursuits when they get back to school.”
Field trips are not limited to local outings. Many schools organize field trips abroad. The program is not only aimed at promoting an international outlook, but also provides the venue for students to enjoy learning in a more informal setting while they explore and appreciate different cultures.
“In addition, students can share their knowledge and experiences with other people, make new friends and more importantly, learn how to be independent from their parents and nannies,” Sekolah Bina Nusantara (Binus) Elementary Year Program Coordinator Richel Langit-Dursin said.
“In our last trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand, our students did lots of team building activities as they interacted with the local people and found out more about their culture and traditions. They had an exceptional experience at a Thai buffalo farm in Hmong village plowing fields and planting rice.”
And when they visited Mae Taman Elephant Camp, many students were bold enough to ride an elephant and even to swim in the river even though there was elephant dung in it! Richel explained that one of the positive experiences in the visit to the camp was that they learned how to make recycled paper out of elephant dung.
A total of 31 students from Grade 5 and 6, four teachers and three volunteer parents took part in this trip. Themed Student Attachment Program, the one-week trip, led by Richel in May, also gave students of Sekolah Binus the opportunity to visit Prem Tinsulanonda, an International Baccalaureate World School in Chiang Mai.
In addition to attending classes at Prem Tinsulanonda International School, students of Sekolah Binus played soccer, learned Thai arts and crafts and Thai dance.
The Global Exchange Program (GPE) at Raffles International Christian School (RICS) is another kind of field trip aimed at providing students with the opportunity to attend classes in partner schools in addition to experiencing the rich culture of the host country.
“We have signed memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with more than eight partner schools from neighboring countries such as Singapore, India, Vietnam, China and Australia,” Gary Tan, the principal of RICS, said adding that such field trips were essential to nurture students with the necessary skills to be successful global citizens in the future.
Gary said that the GEP was a long-term commitment with the school’s partner in a sense that “the program allows us to build significant relationships and exchanges with our partner schools”.
“GEP is not a sightseeing tour. It is a learning opportunity for those in middle and high school levels with the potential to nurture a global outlook and understanding of the diversity and richness of the current era of globalization.”
One example of GEP is the school’s exchange program with Tokiwamatsu Girls School and Hosei Boys School in Tokyo, Japan, which took place from April 19 to May 1 this year. The students were paired with students from the respective host countries and hosted by the Japanese families. “This trip offered an immersion in a typical Japanese family. Particularly for Grade 12 students willing to further their education abroad after graduating from RICS, the trip can be a stepping stone to train them to live away from their families,” Gary asserted.
Field trips are not only an important part of the curriculum at both national plus and international schools, an informal art school in an elite area of Jakarta also includes field trips in its student program.
Shin Don Cheol, a Korean artist, teacher and owner of Tomato Art School, said that most of the students enrolled at his school were children of expatriates and diplomats who go to various international schools in Jakarta.
Thus, he believes that visiting places such as Sunaryo Art Space in Bandung and Nyoman Gunarsa Museum of Klungkung Regency in Bali can enhance his students’ imagination and expose them to innovation in the visual arts. “As students at my school are mostly children of expatriates, the primary goal of organizing such field trips is to give students the opportunity to gain more knowledge of Indonesian art.”
By Aulia Rachmat, published in The Jakarta Post, July 6, 2008.