So what have expeditions got to do with authentic learning let alone learning? To the layman, the word ‘expedition’ equals taking a break, trekking maybe…
However, expeditions in Fairview scale greater heights. Conceptual understandings and international mindedness are cultivated in the classroom are transferred in real life experiences through our bi annual expeditions. Thoroughly scrutinized locations are selected for each grade level to gain the maximum out of these sometimes grueling experiences. Opportunities to develop the ability to work in groups, acquire excellent real world problem solving skills, look beyond what is learnt in class and honour diversity while appreciating commonality are ample with service learning and CAS like activities thrown in,
Thus, about 1500 Middle Years Programme (MYP) students from our 5 campuses in Malaysia disperse to 10 different locations overseas by grades to explore, see and understand concepts of weathering, the effects of climate change, compare and contrast traditional beliefs and practices with modernity while reflecting on burning questions like, ‘Is life determined by where or in what culture you were born into? How can we transform the lives of children living below the poverty line? How do we get the world to understand that global warming is a real threat? How can we play a part in eliminating war and crime, religious extremists in this interconnected world?’
This brings about fierce discussions on what actions can be taken and to what lengths and over what period of time. International mindedness and the attributes of the learner profile come into play as our caring students from over 60 countries of the world share, argue, debate and come up with resolutions on how they would make a difference to the world in small chunks regardless of race, creed or religion.
Our students have helped built water wells, painted school buildings, planted padi and trees in Cambodia, provided farmers with tools and helped farmers harvest salt in Vietnam, worked with children in orphanages and in Homes for the Aged, delivered basic necessities which our students take for granted, like slippers, to the children of the indigenous tribes in ChiangMai, Thailand while indulging in their traditional art forms – dance, musical instruments and music,
China is a haven for learning and our students are immersed in the rich Chinese culture and tradition – making connections and comparisons to the present. The Nanjing massacre, for example, provoked new perspectives on war and crime. Student initiated actions were numerous including providing English language translations for brochures and street names and working with a special education school.
On- site assignments and assessments ensure that learning is intensive and rigorous with students waking up as early as 6am and retiring at 11pm every night. Endurance and tenacity are tested to the limit with having to cope with being away from home for a week, unfamiliar partners and teams and the stress of the learning activities.
Apart from losing a shade, students return with a renewed energy to strive for an education for a better world.