SHORT TERM IMMERSIONS -TRAVEL AND LEARN AS KEY TO GLOBAL UNDERSTANDING AND CARING
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.…Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” (Mark Twain)
Examples of the lessons learned from four distinct courses will be explored: Mexico, Bermuda, the Passamaquoddy tribal reservations and the Holocaust course.
Travel and learn is combining history, science, and literature by making learning personal and relevant to engage the student, especially the “at-risk” student with a field-dependent learning style. It is real face-to-face immersion of students with scientists, historians, authors and other students from other cultures. It takes place 24/7 for a week or two or three in a culture that is foreign to the students. Courses are short-term immersions designed especially for students who can not afford to be away for a whole semester. Twelve-hour learning days are packed with evening lectures by world-renowned scientists and historians, films, labs and cultural events; days are filled with exploring unique habitats, community service, snorkeling coral reefs, measuring beach erosion and hurricane damage, exploring cave environments, deciphering petroglyphs, meeting survivors, visiting ruins and places where history was made.
The courses unfold from the ground up-- starting not with names, dates and places that people often call “history” – but with the students immersed with living people they meet, with artifacts and experiences they can see, touch, and explore and with real problems to solve. To motivate authentic involvement and learning, education must root itself in real experience and appeal to multiple learning styles and the three centers of intelligence. Experiences are designed to appeal to students of all ages and backgrounds that are interested in understanding the underlying processes at work in the wider world context. Topics included oceanic island biology, geology, terrestrial biodiversity, migratory birds, flora, turtles, fish, coral reefs, marine invertebrates, wetlands, mangroves, draught, climate change, pollution, economy, why cultures “fail,” understanding victims, perpetrators and stand-bys and man’s impact on the environment.
What happens in these courses when students are outside their “comfort zone”? The experiences invite students to take an alternative to the traditional classroom didactic path of learning on their journey of discovery and growth. They combine the traditional research/inquiry tools of the historian and scientist – map-reading, communication skills, textual analysis, computer skills, oral testimony, GPS, gathering specimens, using ROVs, nets, microscopes, etc. – with creative responses of learning – such as drama, photography/video journaling, art, and poetry. Travel and Learn reinvigorates both the learning and teaching of science, history and literature for students in our educational program at Husson. The courses are rigorous, involving and personally relevant to the life experience and moral development of each student. They are life changing!