International learning places

Mrs Judith Tudball, Dean of of Co-curriculum

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich
.

The concept of educational travel is not a new one. In his poem Ithaka, the modern Greek poet C.P. Cavafy outlines the lessons learnt on a journey when he writes about the eventful progress of the hero Odysseus home from Troy and the wealth he has gained along the way (Waldron, 2009). Similarly, the great Victorian poet Lord Alfred Lord Tennyson, in his poem Ulysses, writes of the spiritual and intellectual imperatives of life-long journeying. Tennyson’s Ulysses (Odysseus) cannot rest from travelling life to the fullest.

Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world, whose margin fades
Forever and forever when I move.

Clearly, the concept of life-wide learning through travel has great significance across cultures and ages, and is elegantly summed up in this famous aphorism attributed to Chinese Philosopher Confucius

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.

In December 2008, all Australian Education Ministers endorsed The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians. This declaration acknowledged that major changes in the world, along with increased global integration and international mobility, have placed new demands on education, and as a consequence, new and exciting opportunities for Australians are emerging. These opportunities are heightening the need to nurture an appreciation of, and respect for, cultural diversity, and a sense of global citizenship. Similarly, Global Perspectives: a Framework for global education in Australian schools, developed in 2008, places great emphasis on promoting open-mindedness leading to new thinking about the world and developing a predisposition to take action for change. ‘Twenty-first century Australians are members of a global community, connected to the whole world by ties of culture, economics and politics, enhanced communication and travel and a shared environment’ (Global Perspectives, p.2).

In other words, the ‘hands-on’ experience of educational travel with all its diverse opportunities is the broadest possible highway to genuine global citizenship. Brisbane Girls Grammar School prides itself on the scope of international engagement and educational travel opportunities on offer for our students to assist them in developing the necessary knowledge and skills to actively participate in promoting positive values with a global perspective. We aspire to be a leader in exceptional scholarship, and this is underpinned by the guiding principle of life-wide learning.

The Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto released in the United Kingdom in 2006 states that ‘every young person should experience the world beyond the classroom as an essential part of learning and personal development, whatever their age, ability or circumstance’. The document outlines the belief that learning outside the classroom can often provide the most memorable learning experiences and help to make sense of the world around us by creating links between feelings and learning. Studies have shown us that ‘we can appreciate much more through being, doing, sensing, feeling, knowing and changing’ (Beard, Wilson and McCarter 2007:5, cited in Jackson, 2011). In addition, researchers in memory studies suggest that extraordinary events, such as travel experiences, stand out and are distinctive because they create flashbulb memories (Myers, 2003, cited in Jong-Hyeong, 2010). These flashbulb memories are exceptionally vivid and long lasting and are created because travel experiences are significantly different from those of everyday life.

The International Affiliate Schools Programme at Brisbane Girls Grammar School commenced in 1978 and is now in its thirty-fourth year. Its original intent was to provide Girls Grammar students with opportunities to meet students from other countries both on their home ground as well as on ours; to develop further understanding of diverse cultures; and to encourage students to use their target language in ‘real life’ experiences and communication. The programme has enabled countless students the opportunity to travel to France, Germany, Japan and China on school facilitated study tours incorporating home-stay periods with families. In particular, it is estimated that since its inception, over 250 Girls Grammar students have participated in the exchange programme with our French Affiliate School Lycée Saint Paul in Angoulême.

In addition to the Affiliate Schools programme, the School offers a Latin Study Tour to Italy, and in June this year, the inaugural Creative Arts/Humanities Study Tour will depart to New York and north eastern United States of America for two weeks of immersion in cultural and enrichment experiences. In a somewhat different direction, the biennial USA Space Camp will be offered for the twelfth time in 2013, bringing a total of 300 students having participated in this experience over the past twenty years.  Space Camp has proved to be a transformative experience for many of our students who have been exposed to new science concepts and have faced many associated cognitive challenges. Similarly, the Centre for Scientific Research offers opportunities for girls to extend their scientific capabilities through a suite of programmes such as the International Young Physicist’s Tournament (IYPT), the Junior Young Physicist’s Tournament (JYPT) and the Science Olympiads. Once again, a Girls Grammar student has gained selection in the Australian IYPT Team to compete in Germany in July 2012.

The Antipodeans programme, remodelled in 2010 to encompass a yearly departure for Year 12 leavers, has consistently attracted large groups of participants: forty for Cambodia in 2010; forty-two for Borneo in 2011; and thirty-eight for China in 2012. This programme involves an element of service and personal challenge in an international environment and provides opportunities for students to further develop leadership skills.

Nothing grows self-belief and confidence quite like being put into new situations in a developing country. The programme allows you to take control of the trip but in a way that is safe and protected. We made all our own decisions about where to stay. What to eat, how we’d get from one place to another, how we would manage our budget – it truly is a unique and invaluable experience.
Ms S McGarry, Antipodeans Coordinator, Borneo Expedition

Undoubtedly, the girls who take up the challenge of the Antipodeans programme return home as young women who are more grounded and more outwardly focused.

Since 2010, forty-six Girls Grammar students have participated in the Oxbridge Academic Summer Programmes. These programmes, accessible by Year 11 students, are based on the founding principles of imaginative teaching, experiential learning and cultural enrichment. Student and staff participants experience living and studying for short periods in historic and prestigious centres of learning in cities as diverse as Oxford, Cambridge, Paris and New York.

With the ever-increasing emphasis on global awareness in education, and the value placed on scholarship in our new Aspiration, the School turns its mind to imagining creative international engagement opportunities that encompass academic rigour and elements of personal challenge, while promoting international mindfulness in our students. The challenge now lies in imagining and designing future enrichment opportunities with an international perspective.

References

Cavafy, C. P., (2001). In Being alive. Astley N. (ed.). Bloodaxe Books: Great Britain.

Confucius, Retrieved March 21, 2012, from http://thinkexist.com/quotation/i_hear_and_i_forget-i_see_and_i_remember-i_do_and/147445.html

Curriculum Corporation. (2008). Global Perspectives: A framework for global education in Australian Schools. Curriculum Corporation: Carlton.

Department for Education and Skills. (2006). Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto. Retrieved March 9, 2012, from https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/LOtC.pdf

McGarry, S. (2010). Antipodeans Coordinator, Borneo, retrieved March 21, 2012, from http://www.antipodeans.com.au/expedition/expedition.htm

Jackson, N. (2011). ‘Work Integrated’ to ‘Life-Wide’ Learning: Changing a University’s Conceptions of Curriculum. Retrieved August 8, 2011, from http://lifewidecurriculum.pbworks.com/f/From+work+integrated+to+life+wide+learning.pdf

Jong-Hyeong, K. (2010). Determining the Factors Affecting the Memorable Nature of Travel Experiences, Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 27:8, 780-796, retrieved March 9, 2012, from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10548408.2010.526897

Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs. (2008). The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians. Commonwealth Government: Melbourne.

Tennyson, A. (1960). Selected poems of Tennyson. Heinemann: London.

Waldron, M. (2009). Intelligent Travel – Educational Travel Actively Engages Multiple Intelligences and Produces Self-Directed Learners. ACIS White Paper.

 

 

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