04/01/2007: "“Dispatches from the field” Highlight Experiential Education"
Lisa Michaelson’s wonderful recent accounts of the Spring Street International School (SSIS) students’ travel experiences are remarkable. They describe young students facing uncomfortable/unusual/unknown challenges in diverse environments while traveling in the Far East. The juniors and seniors use their learning about decision making as they sample, broaden and change their views of the world. They return to our Islands full of new ideas and exuberant with new development as they relate another chapter in their life-long journey of experiential learning.
Our young people in the San Juan Islands live in a prized, spectacular environment but many do not have enough opportunities to be immersed in the diverse surroundings these experiential trips provide. They are not tourists, they are not “do-gooders,” these students are participants. They are teachers and learners. They are listeners and observers. They plot these experiences on their individual mental maps of knowing and, in many cases, take charge of their own patterns of learning. A cognitive scientist would say they have developed excellent meta-cognitive skills.
SSIS faculty acknowledge these students have come home dramatically changed. Students continue to question what is around them. Perhaps this maturity will help them to make good decisions as they prepare for their next educational experience. Whatever their outcomes, at future SSIS reunions, their most vivid memories and stories of being students might be “When I was in Asia…” Experiential learning is a core SSIS value, part of the founders, Peg and Ted Hope’s vision for the Islands’ young learners, embraced by the SSIS Head of School, Roger Frost, and celebrated by the Board of Trustees.
We are very fortunate in the San Juan Islands to have variations on the ways our kids can be educated, excellent public schools and an excellent experiential, college preparatory private school. We need to collectively support these efforts giving our young people and their parents a variety of ways to motivate their journey for lifetime learning. I am proud to be a part of these efforts.
M. Patricia Morse, Ph.D.
Co-Chair, Board of Trustees
Spring Street International School