Last week we shared a short video of Proctor’s Summer Service Learning trip to Cambodia. In the video (below), students and faculty provided context to their experiences abroad, ranging from eating tarantulas to riding elephants to walking through the Killing Fields of the Cambodian Civil War. Students were pushed physically and emotionally beyond their comfort zones, but we know this is the best form of education; an education that evokes emotion and puts students in a place where they are living what they are learning.
While Proctor’s summer service trips are relatively new (only having been run the past two years), the premise on which they are built (hands-on experiential learning) have been central to Proctor’s educational model for more than 40 years as the video below describes.
We innately have a tendency to desire comfort in our lives. We want things to come easily to us, and learning is no different. But the reality is learning is messy
. And that’s ok. In fact, that’s what we want. We want learning to be messy, ugly, challenging. We want students to question, argue, and debate. We want students to engage with their learning because, as this blog post from Cognoscenti
notes, “At some point…it’s up to children to engage in their educations and become active learners and thinkers...the adults in their lives have the responsibility to teach them how.”
In the above linked blog post, one graduating senior wrote, “By not testing myself or taking chances to go beyond what was expected of me, I was becoming stuck in the persona others had created for me. In fact, I was helping them create it over and over again…I hid in my work because it protected me from having to decide what it was I actually wanted.” This is what we hope never happens to a Proctor graduate, and is why trips to Guatemala and Cambodia, or Ocean Classroom, Mountain Classroom, European Art Classroom, Spain, and Costa Rica are so important.
Life shaping, messy learning experiences don't just happen off-campus, however. Students get messy with their learning alongside their teachers and wrestle with real life issues that are emotionally charged in every program, on every team, and in every classroom at Proctor. As one parent just wrote to us last week upon his daughter’s return from Cambodia, “She was inspired by the trip. Life changing was the way she described it.” The key for us is to capitalize on these life-changing moments by nurturing students' continued discovery of self as they move through their Proctor experience.