Experiencing life through school | AspenTimes.com

Experiencing life through school

Dear Editor:Last week Aspen High School was entirely emptied of its students. Each student was assigned to an educational trip with several of their peers, and left their textbooks behind in exchange for a week of experiential learning. Students could choose from several options including biking, backcountry skiing, hiking, horseback riding, and even community service trips in Mexico and Pearlington, Miss. The high school students are never away from the academic environment and spend their time away from Aspen discovering valuable life skills and learning about themselves. After their experience, each student must follow up and decide how the lessons they learn can be applied to their academic and social lives. Experiential Education not only allows students a chance to discover more about themselves, their peers and the world outside of Aspen, it also allows students to make a connection between the things they learn in the classroom and how they relate to outside life.Each trip is lead by one or more teachers and even though the classrooms are left behind, learning continues to take place outside of the school walls. Teachers enlighten students about the history of the area they are in, the cultural influence of the places they are visiting and, geological observations that can be made. Ex Ed provides a chance for students to take pervious information about subject areas and expand their knowledge through experience and hands-on learning. The academic benefits are vast, but what students lean from this experience goes far beyond school subjects and developing a better understanding of the textbook information.Experiential education provides an opportunity for each student in the high school to become better acquainted with their peers. This program strengthens the school’s relationship by putting students into situations where they must work together to overcome the challenges they face. This year I attended the Bay Area Biking Tour, a 300-mile road bike tour around San Francisco and the Bay Area; on my trip alone, there was a large amount of diversity. I gained a great amount of respect for every individual on my trip and learned about several different cultures. Without Ex Ed I probably would never have met and become friends with all of the wonderful people I got to know.I strongly believe that the Experiential Education program at Aspen High School provides students with experiences and opportunities to learn that they would never have in the school environment. The program is unique in the sense that it gives students the opportunity to take learning into their own hands, away from the textbooks. It challenges the students to move outside of their comfort zones and encourages the students to take responsibility for their own learning. Regardless of which trip the students go on, Experiential Education is a valuable experience where students create lasting friendships and learn life lessons that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.Brittany MarrsAspen High School student

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