SPE­CIAL SEC­TIONS: EDUCATION

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY NATHAN JEFFAY

FOR EV­ERY­THING that chil­dren learn at school, teach­ers of­ten say that some of the big­gest jumps in ma­tu­rity come when pupils are taken out­side the class­room. “The in­creased lev­els of ma­tu­rity that trav­el­ling abroad brings out in young chil­dren is quite as­ton­ish­ing,” says Ben Evans, head­mas­ter at Edge Grove Prep School in Hert­ford­shire.

He thinks that tak­ing pupils abroad in a school con­text “broad­ens their hori­zons, as the ex­pec­ta­tion to be­have re­spon­si­bly and con­fi­dently is some­how mag­ni­fied the minute they cross the UK bor­ders”.

He also lauds the ex­pe­ri­ence from an ed­u­ca­tional per­spec­tive. “What is re­mark­able is their nat­u­ral thirst for dis­cov­ery and ad­ven­ture, their abil­ity to adapt and com­mu­ni­cate with dif­fer­ent na­tion­al­i­ties with ease and also to in­spire oth­ers around them,” he says, adding that “al­though chil­dren are out of their com­fort zones when abroad, it seems that the un­known does seem to bring out the best in their abil­ity to con­cen­trate and fo­cus”. From his ex­pe­ri­ence, “be­ing some­where com­pletely dif­fer­ent en­gages the mind and most chil­dren will try that much harder to suc­ceed”.

Last spring the school ran a ski trip, and Mr Evans re­cently ac­com­pa­nied a group on a cricket tour to Sri Lanka. As well as the value of the ex­pe­ri­ence for fos­ter­ing ma­tu­rity and learn­ing new things, it also taught pupils to chal­lenge stereo­types, such as the as­sump­tion that food in a de­vel­op­ing coun­try would be un­en­joy­able. “It is in­ter­est­ing to see how th­ese views are al­tered when they ex­pe­ri­ence the true re­al­ity, such as hav­ing some of the loveli­est food they have ever tasted.”

In his opin­ion, over­seas trips can ac­tu­ally help pupils-years-down the line, in the world of work.

“The nice thing about trav­el­ling is that all skills are trans­fer­able,” he says.

“I’d also ar­gue that mod­ern life ne­ces­si­tates the ac­qui­si­tion of th­ese skills if you are to suc­ceed in life. The world is ac­tu­ally very small and com­mu­ni­ca­tion with peo­ple of dif­fer­ent na­tion­al­i­ties is es­sen­tial as is hav­ing an un­der­stand­ing of their cul­tures.

“Over­seas trips not only en­gage young minds but [pro­mote] the adapt­abil­ity and abil­ity to re­act to dif­fer­ent cir­cum­stances with­out panic or men­tal col­lapse — a for­mi­da­ble skill to have in any work­place en­vi­ron­ment to­day.”

What makes for a suc­cess­ful over­seas trip?

“Make sure you are clear on the pur­pose of the trip and whether you re­ally do need to go over­seas,” he says. “Can the same out­come be achieved by stay­ing in the UK?” Struc­ture is vi­tal, high ra­tios of staff are es­sen­tial and the trip should be af­ford­able to enough par­ents to make it vi­able.

Mr Evans is also a be­liever in UK-based trips. His school went on an “ex­pe­di­tion week” in June and des­ti­na­tions since then have in­cluded the Na­tional Por­trait Gallery and Re­gents Park Open Air Theatre.

In Jewish schools, staff value trips for all the same rea­sons as else­where — and also for the po­ten­tial they hold for Jewish education and bol­ster­ing Jewish iden­tity.

At Im­manuel Col­lege, an in­de­pen­dent Jewish school in Hert­ford­shire for boys and girls aged four to 19, there are trips to the theatre, mu­se­ums, parks, other open spa­ces and old-age care homes through­out the year.

In terms of res­i­den­tial trips, year seven pupils are given the op­tion of go­ing to Am­s­ter­dam where, among other things,

they see the Anne Frank House Holo­caust me­mo­rial and year nine pupils have the chance to go to Is­rael, where ac­tiv­i­ties in­clude wa­ter sports on the Sea of Galilee and tours of Jerusalem.

In year 12, pupils are of­fered a trip to Poland, dur­ing which they learn about the Jewish his­tory of the coun­try and about Holo­caust his­tory, in­clud­ing vis­its to camps.

“We of­fer a range of ed­u­ca­tional day trips through­out the aca­demic year to pupils in all year groups in both the prep school and se­nior school,” says Paul Abra­hams, an as­sis­tant head, elab­o­rat­ing: “At Im­manuel we ac­tively en­cour­age trips for the im­mense ed­u­ca­tional, so­cial and cul­tural value that they of­fer to our pupils.”

Im­manuel pupils are in­spired by Am­s­ter­dam

Im­manuel year nines plunge into Is­raeli life. Below: Edge Grove stu­dents learn trans­fer­able skills on a ski trip

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