Benefits of School Residentials: Enthusiasm in Learning
“I’m more interested in arousing enthusiasm in kids than in teaching the facts. The facts may change, but that enthusiasm for exploring the world will remain with them the rest of their lives.” – Simon Seymour
How do we create enthusiastic learners? Naturally, this is easier in primary schools than secondary schools; younger children tend to have more inquisitive minds and zest for learning. Untarnished by the pains of adolescence in secondary school.
However, igniting a passion for learning in Key Stage 2 can still sometimes remain a challenge, and as a line in a paper from ‘Beyond the Journal: Young Children on the Web’ aptly states: “after children enter school, their natural motivation and interest in learning does not always persist.” This is a challenge that we know can vary from pupil to pupil; depending on many external factors, including upbringing and social background. Yet, if the schooling community are able to develop a passion for learning at school from a young age, it is more likely that the passion will be sustained as they grow and develop into the latter educational stages of their lives. We feel that school residentials can play a key role in igniting this passion, enthusiasm and desire to learn.
A Fun & Engaging Experience
School residential trips are focused on children learning through having fun, and there’s no better way of encouraging an enthusiasm for learning and engagement with school than through fun itself. This is an approach that is used consistently in work and education, not just in primary schools. Professor Nicolas Gair, author of: Outdoor Education: Theory and Practice, stated that: “All major industries and companies are investing money for team building and management training using the outdoors. If they’re prepared to do that, it’s logical we should be using these strategies in schools”. This could not be more true.
Companies embark on team building activities to foster genuine connections between employees. They endeavour to place employees in a more relaxed setting, encouraging healthy competition, team spirit, fun and most importantly motivation. The aspect of fun provides a positive work experience for employees, which not only develops a connection between each other but also between them and the company. This drives greater commitment and desire to succeed within the working environment. The same can be said of children and schools. Provide them with a fun and engaging experience and they will see school and learning from a different perspective and discover even greater value of it; driving them to succeed and be enthusiastic about education for the long-term.
Besides this, we are also seeing the rising culture of ‘fun’ day-to-day working environments from modern, forward-thinking companies; perhaps a paradox against the increasing demands of productivity and commitment from employees. Albeit, it seems to work. Companies such as Google have notoriously fun working environments, yet are still able to obtain fantastic results and success as a result of their employees’ work and achievements. Within education, there is a mounting work-load for teachers alongside increased pressure and assessments for pupils which is continuing to disrupt the amount of ‘fun’ learning that can be embedded into education. However, based on this business model, there should still be a place for fun in education. It simply works.
Learn to Love Learning
We know inside the classroom, learning cannot always be fun, as much as you try there are always going to be limits. Therefore, another way that school residentials can benefit classroom learning is by encouraging children to love learning, no matter which form it takes.
‘How Children Learn’ by John Holt, describes the natural learning style of young children. He suggests that children learn best about the world through first-hand experience. This is exactly what school residential trips encourage. Furthermore, he touches on the impact of stress in learning; ‘when we make children afraid, we stop learning dead in its tracks’. Sometimes strict structure and continued assessments can make children afraid to make mistakes, potentially hampering their learning. However, school residentials provide the perfect opportunity for children to express themselves and freely explore learning; they are provided with an environment where they are able to meet challenges with no fear. They are able to achieve something new or make mistakes, met with the same outcome, no judgement and learning curves. Once children learn that they can conquer fears and mistakes without judgement, they are able to develop a more relaxed approach and learn to love learning. These are all skills that can be transferred to the classroom for a continued love of learning!
Another great book, ‘Motivated Minds: Raising Children to Love Learning’ by Kathy Seal, makes valuable suggestions on how to encourage children to love learning. They include: connecting school to the real world; sharing things in everyday life; talking about what children are learning in school; relating learning to family members and events; and giving children a rich array of experiences. Again, this is something that school residentials can foster. Residential trips enrich the school experience by providing something new and out of the ordinary for children. Furthermore, school residentials can offer an experience that pupils’ families are sure to be able to relate to and talk about.
Finally, the learning outcomes related to school trips truly connect school to the real word and provide the children with attributes and experiences that can contribute to shaping their character. Once children can see the benefits themselves from something that their education has brought them, they will be more receptive and enthusiastic about it now and in the future.