In the previous article “Alternative Learning Methods: Which One’s for You?”, we discussed some alternative methods currently in use that have superseded traditional learning in many cases. One drawback common to some alternative learning methods is a distinct lack of “hands on” experience on the part of the student. It would indeed be a serious oversight to attempt to fully educate ourselves, our children or our students by any means without providing available opportunities for intimate personal exposure to a wide variety of places, things animals and the environment in general. “Learning in a box” must be avoided at all costs if well-rounded development is going to be achieved. With virtual education, independent study and home schooling in particular, a series of on-going field trips should be programmed to augment the learning experience.
Virtual Education Courses and Programs
Courses and programs taken completely online or through the use of computers have immensely gained in popularity during recent times. With the advent of better, faster, and cheaper personal and laptop computers, students are able to carry the learning process into almost every facet of their lives using CR-ROMs and the internet to supplement their skills, knowledge and learning. Learning strategies such as Web Quests, Online Forums, Moderated Chats, I / M (Instant Messaging) have lent a whole new vista to education of children and adults alike. Local sites and facilities which are related to study topic would be interesting and useful field trips.
Independent Study involves design of a project which students then complete by various means on their own. The collective work may require a number of intricately interacted facets to complete. Investigative research, writing, field trips, interviews, extensive reading and lectures may all be involved and required to complete project work. The final production is often a presentation, paper or report extolling the details of the student’s work and acquired knowledge. Independent learning must be augmented by as many local or regional field trips, related to their studies as possible, for the student to more fully internalize the material.
When a student does not attend traditional public or private school, but instead, has classes taught at home by parents and / or tutors, the concurrent term used is home schooling. A number of methods, singly or in combination, may be utilized to inform and educate the student. With the rise of crime and violence in the public (free) school systems of many countries, more and more families are turning to this once-maligned manner of educating their children. Broadening the student’s world with an extensive array of field trips will do wonders in providing the inculcation necessary to more fully develop the learner’s intelligences.
Associated with both a traditional school setting and independent learning, field trips consist of students visiting a location outside of their school or home to learn about a topic or theme. Trips and visits can be made locally, regionally or even done as part of a “semester abroad” experience. Summer is frequently used for this purpose as inclement weather is far more common in autumn and winter. An effective learning strategy, this method does require a teacher or guide to fully accomplish. Also, setting up visits to some locales may be difficult or impossible for the individual learner. Places visited might include locations such as:
o manufacturing facilities
o breweries, distilleries
o historic sites and buildings
o tombs, cemeteries and monuments
o a park
o the Zoo and “Petting” Zoos
o Gardens, greenhouses, orchards and Horticultural Centers
o an aquarium
o dairy farms
Also to be included for consideration, are field trips to public services facilities like:
o fire stations
o TV stations
o radio studios
o newspaper offices and printing facilities
o hospitals or health care facilities
o police stations or detention centers
o water or waste treatment plants
o weather stations
To determine what is available locally, you can visit the local bureau of tourism, the chamber of commerce, the city and state departments of education; consult the yellow pages and the websites of area businesses. This should give you a list to start. More will likely be added as you gain contacts in business and industry. Ask for suggestions and recommendations as you go. People are almost always glad to help. Please feel free to contact me for specific recommendations, referrals and ideas.