Tara Kini's talk, “Designing a Curriculum Around Expeditionary Learning” discussed how expeditionary, out of classroom learning opportunities, create unforgettable and immeasurable learning opportunities. Children remember expeditions far more than anything else.
She explained that expeditionary learning is experiential learning through out of classroom experiences. When teachers plan an expeditionary learning experience, first pick a theme, and then pick the location which best facilitates the kind of learning required for the theme. “[The expedition] is a platform where children can be curious and have tenacity of spirit.”
Case studies from DRIK Patashala, a learning centre for urban poor children in Andhra Pradesh. Here the classes are divided into vertical age groups (with three year age bands eg. Ages 3,4, and 5).
She spoke to the question: “How do we build a curriculum for this type of student mix?”
Collaborative planning is essential for planning an interdisciplinary unit. Teachers also have to visit the site first, prior to taking students there to ensure where samples can be gathered etc. Also, arrange discussions and visits with people in each location (for instance priests in temple towns, artists etc). Also, students need to be prepared to ask questions – so they must do some research before they go on an expedition.
Continuing the discussion, Tara spoke about the syllabus used in the school. All the learning is appropriate to the age group of the students according to McRel levels. She explained ten principles of expeditionary learning which include: the primacy of self-discovery, the having of wonderful ideas, the responsibility of learning, empathy and caring, success and failure, collaboration and competition, diversity and inclusion, the natural world, solitude and reflection, service and compassion. Each and every one of these principles captures endless possibilities for teachers to create learning opportunities.
In addition to the joy and curiosity children experience through expeditionary learning, Tara Kini explains, “There is no failure in this kind of learning, everyone is learning together. It becomes okay to make mistakes.”