The Vacation Dilemma

cc licensed flickr photo shared by Dan4th

As I sit on break and think about the time away from school, I have thought a lot about the predicament that we often face in education with families leaving on trips in school and asking for us to send homework.  It is not that I am against families going on trips; some of the best learning can happen from these cultural experiences and bonding with one another.  It is the thought of sending “work” on these trips that is weighing on my mind.

Here is the dilemma.  If schools are really progressing and creating collaborative experiences, developing critical minds, and working with our students so that they can create projects or items based upon this learning, how can we “package” this up and send it along with students?  Often many will ask for worksheets to accompany their child on trips which I have refused.  This is not something that will stick with a student while they are visiting another country or is it meaningful learning.

Take for example this grade two student at Forest Green School that has recently visited China. The homework the teacher had asked the student to do was to write back on our school blog and talk about parts of his trip while he was gone.  Not only was he able to connect and discuss his own learning, but he was also able to share his learning with our entire school community and his classroom.  I love this type of authentic learning.

The dilemma that schools face is that real learning can happen on these trips, yet if our school provide the learning environments that are beneficial to our students, should it not be harder for our students to miss out on what is happening?

Some questions on my mind:

How can we provide opportunities for our students to develop their learning while away without doing the traditional “worksheet packages” that have been sent in the past?

Do we create the environment in schools where it is detrimental to “miss” out on the learning that is happening?

Is attendance in schools seen as “crucial” to our community?

I would love your thoughts.

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