Pedagogical Outings: Dreaming, Planning, Going Out and Coming Back- Patricia Guijarrubia

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“To walk is to inhabit the body, temporarily or indefinitely. To turn to the forest, the routes or the paths does not excuse us from our ever growing responsibility towards the challenges of the world, but it allows us to catch our breath, sharpen our senses, renew our curiosity.”

D. Le Breton

1. The meanings of pedagogical outings

To begin this path, we will get close to a possible definition. The importance of naming and construing meaning will help to give a framework to the semantic field of such a powerful pair. 

An ‘outing’ is a term referring to a trip, usually for enjoyment. It is a movement that implies getting to a place in a specific point in time.  It entails going out and coming back. If we add ‘pedagogical’, it now becomes a trip with educational goals, and it needs to go through the stages of selection, planning, defining, assessing and socializing/communicating. 

A pedagogical outing is a trip from a school to a different place, which seeks to enrich knowledge in a teaching-learning process. It is a physical, real trip from school to then return to it: it is a circular process of going out and coming back. This paired concept sharpens the educational institution perspective, views and completes the historical progress made on this topic and collects widening meaning.

A pedagogical outing goes beyond a “guided tour”, as it focuses more on the vision from the institution that receives the school audience. The paired concept ‘guided tour’ only refers to the visit itself (the “after”), which is why this naming may be incomplete. 

A pedagogical outing is more than a “didactic visit”, because it is not focused only on going out, but rather on the going out and coming back, given it includes planning the outing and working on it later at school. More specifically, the three foundational elements of a pedagogical outing are before, during and after.

The public programs to articulate city and school are key and necessary to promote these trips, creating true bridges between schools and educational spaces (museums, parks, playgrounds, cultural centers, production spaces, libraries, radio stations, among others.) They organize and democratize access to cultural assets for everyone, while also enabling and enriching the joint work between teachers and educators/mediators from the spaces to visit.

Pedagogical outings boost moving pedagogy to its highest standard. 

They are adventures to travel without a hurry.

Twists and meanders to fish for experiences.

Labyrinths and open tunnels to be amazed.

Hide and seek and ‘ready or not’ to be surprised.

Open circles to learn.

Boards with maps to jump side by side.

Paths to take a step in the past, present and future.

2. A compass to decide where to go

To choose an educational destination to visit, there are different aspects to considers, presented in no particular order below. It is fundamental to assess them before planning, so that the pedagogical outing is strong, fluent, enriching and is also able to step away from stale, traditional proposals. 

Aspects to consider: 

*Projects: At district, institutional and classroom levels 

*Institution and classes’ annual planning 

*The group’s history, interests, wishes, likes, questions and wonderings 

*Curricular goals and content

*The time of year, especially the seasons 

*Proposals offered by educational institutions

It will be necessary to take the route that starts by recognizing the spaces that the city has to offer, then continues by analyzing their heritage, including the theme(s) they discuss, and ends by assessing the perspective and possibilities they offer for the preschool level. To this end, three alternative paths are presented here.

A. To draw an educational map

It is important to identify the educational spaces located in the city. To this point, Trilla Bernet (1999) makes a key proposal of drawing an educational map/inventory, which states the distribution of all the spaces that have a significant educational projection in that place.

Moreover, Risler & Ares (2013), in their Manual de mapeo colectivo [Collective Mapping Manual], state that the map is not the territory, but rather it is transformed and made dynamic by a process of collective mapping, where the knowledge and experience of its participants is crystalized. They present the following cartographic resources to draw the map: make group research tours and use icons (simple images) to place something on the map/inventory. 

It is fundamental to draw an map/inventory and to include the participation from school and the community as a whole. It is an opportunity to organize and share knowledge about one’s own territory, placing spaces that may be closer or farther away. It may include places within walking distance and others to get to using public or hired transportation. 

In the planning stage of the map/inventory (which can be updated at different time points) some questions will arise, so we share a few that can contribute to the discussion to choose different spaces.  

What places are we interested in to visit this year? Why? What frequency will we set for the pedagogical outings per class or institution? What will be the annual itinerary? What spaces do the children already know? What spaces would they like to visit? What spaces do we have within walking distance? What about going there by public or school transportation? Are there any special events during the school year, or in the city or town? 

B. To choose and deep dive

Taking into account our map/inventory and the different aspects for the planning stage, we also suggest some more specific questions to dive deeper into the knowledge of the possible space to visit.

What does the space show? What is the space’s history? Is it a public or private space? Are there main, temporary or permanent exhibitions? Is heritage exhibited? Are glass cases, touch screens, interactive boards, play devices, or others, used? What is the criteria used for the exhibition: chronological, thematic, or other? How are children placed regarding learning? Are there different proposals for different ages? What are the names of these proposals? Many times, the way something is named can convey meanings that propose a certain perspective, so we can find poetic, imaginative, humoristic, creative or questioning titles.

 What are the characteristics of the educational proposal? Are they guided, discussed, dramatized or self-guided? Are they creative or traditional? Are there production stages? What real instances of participation and interaction do they offer for children? Are there proposals for before, during and after the outing on their website? 

C. To analyze digital material

Nowadays, various educators have incorporated the use of technology, usually by browsing official websites. While reviewing the website of the educational space we wish to visit, we may find the institution’s history, the heritage they exhibit and its narrative, location maps, photo galleries and maybe even touring guidelines.

Some of them also include an educational section, where they present proposals for schools and reservation conditions.

In some cases, proposals for before and after the outing are included as well, with different stages of creativity and openness. It is important to take a moment to review and choose them carefully. We suggest to always take a critical standpoint when assessing these materials. These productions show the pedagogical method the space proposes. This means taking into consideration the type of material, the language used, the design and quality of the activities: traditional, repetitive and from memory, or rather innovative, brainstorming and interactive. Some materials may promote problem-solving, reflection, creation and genuine participation, as well as an approach to heritage by using body language, sensitivity and the whole array of senses. These are worthy and dignified materials that educators can use for inspiration. 

Sometimes, we may be able to find virtual tours in the websites of the spaces we wish to visit. These extend the real, physical space. They offer a visualization process of the exhibit. They are often curated productions that allow to be viewed from different angles and dimensions, such as 2D, 3D and 360° views. These may be useful when deciding whether or not to visit a space. They may also be used to present them before and after the in-person tour, always allowing to have a moment for amazement. It is important to note that a virtual tour and website browsing of the selected space are two different instances. The first one involves a set path inside the space, guided by audio files to choose where to enter, sometimes with the possibility to stop to read or listen to information. The second one involves browsing the website for information, such as a map of the space, guidelines, agendas, etc.

Finally, another central aspect are the social media platforms the space to visit has, which will present the audience communication strategy towards the general public and more specifically the school audience. 

To dream and realize pedagogical outings means for the school to expand beyond its physical walls and transform itself into a true bridge that widen horizons and propose democratizing and freeing paths. 

To dream and realize pedagogical outings means to offer joyful occasions that may also provoke the wish to return.  For some children, this may be an inaugural moment, their first experience. This is how our labor as educators enable instances that open new paths.

3. The three instances of a pedagogical outing

A pedagogical outing is made up of three different, interrelated and fundamental components, organized chronologically. 

Instance 
First instance “Before”Organize the outing, plan the objectives, anticipate the topics to discuss and the activities to do before the visit. Establish ground rules.  Ask questions and write them down. Share expectations. 
Second instance“During”Deep dive. Walk around, ask questions, discuss, build possible answers and new questions.
Third instance “After”Communicate learning outcomes and share experiences. Discuss together what each one felt and what was learnt. Communicate this to the rest of the educational institution and families, as well as the spaces visited.

4. A round of wishes

To conclude these written paths, we share some wishes, as a true desire that the words that constitute them will be an inspiration to dream, plan, go out and come back, that is, to realize the pedagogical outings and so much more!

Dear educators,

I wish that you will be brave to incorporate new and wider perspectives, that marry the tiny and the immense, the diverse and the unique, the amazement and the learning, the personal and the collective paths, as well as the visible and the invisible territories.

I wish that you will be brave to expand horizons, to go out and come back, to plant seeds of new desires and memories to learn continually.

I wish that children will remember you as builders of new paths that invite them to take a peek into the complexities of a world that can fit many worlds.

References

*Melgar, M. F. & Donolo, D. (2008). “Leave the classroom…To learn from other contexts: Heritage natural, museums and Internet.” Eureka Journal of Educational Research. No. 8, Cádiz University.

*Risler J. & Ares, P. (2013). Manual del mapeo colectivo: recursos cartográficos críticos para procesos territoriales de creación colectiva. [Collective Mapping Manual: Cartographical Resources for the Collective Creation of Territory-Building Processes.] Tinta Limón:  Buenos Aires.

*Trilla B. (1999) La ciudad educadora: De las retóricas a los proyectos [The Educating City: From Rhetoric to Projects]. Cuadernos de Pedagogía: Barcelona.

Patricia Guijarrubia is an expert in pedagogy for equality in diverse social and educational contexts (University of Buenos Aires), holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education Science (University of Buenos Aires) and is a primary school teacher. She also works as a teacher trainer in teacher training colleges (ENS, for its Spanish acronym) No. 3 and 4, in the Institutional Definition Spaces (EDIs, for its Spanish acronym): ‘The Educational Perspective in Buenos Aires’ and ‘Expanding the Classroom Horizons´, respectively. She created the radio column ‘Utopian Pedagogies’ in the Tejiendo Redes [Creating Networks] show at Gráfica Radio. She is the co-founder and coordinator of the educational project ‘Open sky classrooms’ in Parque Avellaneda, Buenos Aires City. Author of various pedagogical articles published in specialized national and international journals, she specially collaborates at Noveduc. (pedagogiasutopistas.wixsite.com/blog)

 pguijarrubia@gmail.com  

Patricia Guijarrubia (@pguijarrubia) is the author of the book Paseos pedagógicos: Planificación y desarrollo de salidas [Pedagogical Outings: Planning and Carrying out Field Trips], Noveduc Publishing House (@librosnoveduc). This book interconnects her experience as a teacher trainer of the ‘Expanding the Classroom Horizons’ program for various preschool and primary level education colleges with her work as an educator and coordinator of the educational project ‘Open sky classrooms’ in Parque Avellaneda and her specialized education.

Bookshops: La Juglaresa (@lajuglaresa), Ritualitos (@ritualitos).

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