This week MAK has done something unprecedented in Morrison’s history: we have sent our entire secondary school on off-campus learning trips during the same week. While we have had multi-day Impact trips for each of our secondary grades for several years now, an Impact Week is a new kind of experience for our staff and students. But why expend this level of energy and resources on off-campus learning?
Opportunities for Character Growth 人格特質成長的機會
At the heart of our enthusiasm for learning at MAK is student character growth. Each of our trips has a theme intentionally designed to challenge each grade’s developmental needs. Our 6th graders go to Sun Moon Lake thinking about Crossing Over from elementary school to middle school, stepping out of their elementary school immaturities. Our sophomores, who are emerging as leaders in their courses, teams, and clubs, are practicing their theme of Leading with Courage this week as they navigate challenges presented to them by the land and waters of Xiao Liu Qiu.
Having our trips all in one week has allowed us to spend intentional time in advisory in the weeks prior to each trip examining these themes, being sure that students are getting the point. Additionally, our new Impact Week schedule has allowed our seniors, who have the theme of Leaving a Legacy, to play a major role as student leaders in our preparatory advisory sessions and as leaders on each trip for grades 6-11.
Additionally, our middle school schedule for the week includes two days prior to each trip during which each grade level can not only discuss their trip themes but also focus on the character traits needed for service and for working together. On Tuesday this week we spent a full day in middle school serving three schools in our area (Renwu Special Needs School, Jia Cheng Elementary School, and Meinong Elementary School) in effort to learn and apply the character traits needed for working together on each trip.
Integrating Theory and Practice 理論整合與應用
Another benefit of this type of learning is the fact that all our words have a chance to get transformed into action. We often tell our students to Do Hard Things, which is the theme of our 8th grade trip, but until they are presented with a real challenge and asked to really do it, these words often ring hollow in students’ ears. A number of years ago I took a group of students to a waterfall near Kenting and challenged them to jump from the rocks into a pool below. For many, it was a real challenge. Years later, one of those students, as a senior, described to me how that moment was foundational in his overcoming his fear of taking risks and trying new things.
Our 9th grade trip to Green Island attempts to do the same on an academic level. When students can see real damage done by humans to a real ecosystem, a biology unit on ecosystems takes on a whole new reality. When our 11th graders discuss poverty in Bible class next semester, they will have had an intimate experience of what poverty looks like after their trip to Cambodia this week. These types of trips can make learning real.
A Safe Place to Take Risks 在安全之地冒險
Off-campus learning environments are not as controlled as a typical school environment. There quite simply are more variables. On our trips our students are faced with sea sickness, bugs, new sleeping arrangements, and often food that is not exactly delicious. Parents are also faced with the prospect of entrusting their child to the school for a few days, and this can be a difficult thing! But we must remember the importance of risk-taking to learning. Often the times we learn the most and gain the most independence and confidence are the times when we feel uncomfortable or when we are unsure. Conversely, when we are shielded from all discomfort, we become dependent on others and often lack personal confidence and initiative.
Our staff has gone to great lengths to plan safe trips for each of our students, conducting discussions of potential risks, receiving first aid instructions and supplies, and visiting locations beforehand. The beauty of our trips is that while students might sense risk-taking, “risks” are being taken in a safe environment under the supervision of caring staff.
Bonds for a Lifetime; Moments of Inspiration 一生的關鍵; 激勵的時刻
Another benefit to off-campus trips is the memories that they create. I still vividly remember the experience of eating rice with my hands at a restaurant in Nepal and the morning I spent on a boat with a friend on the quiet, mirror-like lake adjacent to Pokhara. I remember being amazed by the resilience of a young man I met in Indonesia on a trip with the juniors several years ago. I remember a moment on Orchid Island when I couldn’t sleep and watched the sunrise out over a silent Pacific Ocean, marveling at God’s goodness. We all carry memories like these, and often they linger longest when they occur within a unique experience. These types of trips give students moments worth writing about, conversations worth meditating on, and experiences worth doing something about.
校外旅行的零一個優點是他們創造了回憶。我至今仍深深地記得我在尼泊爾(Nepal)的一間餐廳裡用手抓著飯吃; 某個早晨，我和一個朋友在鄰近博卡拉的一座波光粼粼的湖泊上，坐著船度過安靜的時光; 許多年前，和十一年級生在印尼的旅途中，我因為一位年輕人生命的韌性而感到驚奇; 在蘭嶼時，因為失眠而看到太陽從無聲的太平洋升起的那一瞬間，讚嘆上帝的良善。我們都擁有類似這樣的回憶，當它們伴隨著獨一無二的經驗發生時，就會時時縈繞在心頭。這些旅程給予學生值得書寫的回憶，給予學生值得回想的對話，給予學生值得做些與這些事情有關的經驗。
Lifelong Learning 終身且全面的學習
Finally, our hope is that these experiences produce a sense that traditional academic skills, while they are certainly vital and necessary, are not the only source of learning. Our hope at Morrison is that our students are lifelong learners. When we start seeing questions to be asked and answered in the people around us, in the environment we live in, in the opportunities we are presented with, and in the daily problems we experience, that is when we begin to be true learners.