I am never the most tech savvy person in the room. There is so much out there and it's always evolving. It's tough to know where to start and just when I feel I've gotten it, everything changes. Education technology can be intimidating and time-consuming to learn. Time isn't something teachers have in abundance.
My family of four has traveled like crazy the past few years. We've been to seven National Parks, flew to Copenhagen, took a handful of long distance road trips. It has been absolutely exhausting. No question. But I don't regret any of it.
The bulk of my experience as an educator was at a school that was student-centered, travel-encouraged, and predominantly project-based. Combine all three and you have student-directed school trips. The benefits of educational travel are enormous! I highly encourage reading on!
My husband and I made an educational travel goal of visiting every US national park as a family before our children turn 18. We have been to so so many great ones - Zion, Bryce Canyon, the Grand Canyon, the Great Smoky Mountains, Pictured Rocks National Park, The Badlands, and Rocky Mountains National Park - but we still have a long way to go!
I have been involved in educational travel for over a decade - traveling myself, coordinating our high school's travel program, and now building resources for and offering tips to homeschool traveling families, summer high school travel programs, school travel programs, youth groups, and more. This passion and love for learning through travel started in Costa Rica.
The benefits of educational travel are invaluable. I have seen the impact that travel has on students from school travel groups, traveling homeschool families, and youth groups. I have experienced this impact personally and have watched how travel has affected my own children.
Has anyone else binge-watched "Down to Earth" on Netflix? If you haven't, do it! Down to Earth is a 5 star example of project based learning on the road and/or abroad.
Zach Efron (yes, I know), travels around the world focusing his energy on ONE global issue. For example, he visits Paris, where he dives deeply into the issue of clean and healthy drinking water. He talks with engineers, city planners, and local political figures. He talks with locals and visits a water treatment facility.
Building 21st-Century Skills Through Travel
The 6C's of education, developed by Michael Fullan, include creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, citizenship, and character. These competencies are essential for today's learners to be successful in the 21st-century. It is more important (in my opinion) for educators of today to provide opportunities for students to practice these skills than it is to teach content matter. It's great to have both, but ignoring 21st-century skill building doesn't do anyone any favors.
'Tis the season for road trips! Whether it be a spring camping trip with students, a summer road trip with your own children, or a cross country trip with just you and your dog, take full advantage of learning opportunities along the way. Learning is powerful beyond the walls of a classroom. Hitting the road opens doors to learning experiences that couldn't be achieved from a classroom.
Several years ago I traveled with some of my high school students to Costa Rica to study tropical biology. The purpose of the trip was to experience biodiversity and a culture different than their own first-hand. I often write about the benefits of educational travel.
There are many reasons to incorporate travel into school or homeschool curriculum - enhance worldview, gain content knowledge, build 21st-century skills, make lifelong friends- among other things. Check out 6 Reasons to Start an Educational Travel Program for more.
To provide innovative educational resources for educators, parents, and students, that go beyond lecture and worksheets.
Sara Segar, experiential life-science educator and advisor, curriculum writer, and mother of two.