The way we learn is a characteristic that makes each person unique. It’s as much a part of our identity as our appearance, speech, interests and values.
That’s why every child deserves the chance to explore their potential for knowledge through multi-sensory education. Access to learning experiences tailored to engage each of the five senses allows students and teachers to gain insight into how best to achieve lesson objectives.
Inside a classroom, sensory learning can be limited to looking at the brightness of a projector screen or touching the pages of a book. School trips offer students the opportunity to feel a different air around them, smell the uniqueness of a new environment and hear languages and sounds they wouldn’t hear every day.
A sense we take for granted, we use our sight to process our surroundings, often without the need for any further data.
Take art for example – the interpretation of a painting or sculpture can vary enormously from one person to another, meaning when it comes to visual learning, each student’s individuality will determine how they interact with and absorb information.
Having committed hours of time to teaching young geographers about Iceland’s tectonic plates, nothing compares to gearing them up with drysuits and snorkels for an eye-opening swim in the Silfra fissure, allowing a first-hand view of its stunning beauty.
Being able to point at and comment on what can be seen ‘in the flesh’, as opposed to a flat image, gives your students a brand new appreciation for their lesson content.
Focusing on auditory learning alone may seem like an unusual approach, but it can unlock previously unidentified creativity within students. Asking your class what they think about when they hear certain noises, encourages use of imagination and independent thought.
Music can influence emotion and create association, whilst hearing the rush of water or a crack of thunder can put the power of Mother Nature into perspective.
Visiting foreign countries and being exposed to native speakers introduces new dialects and a wider vocabulary that language students may not have had access to in school.
Using sound as a teaching tool doesn’t have to be complicated. Tyne Cot Cemetery has a straightforward technique for creating maximum impact. By playing aloud the names of over 34,000 missing soldiers for history students to hear during their visit, brings home the startling reality and consequence of war.
Choosing school trip excursions that are interactive can make all the difference in engaging the minds of those who are easily distracted.
One experience in particular that comes to mind when considering the use of physical touch as a learning mechanism, is the DDR Museum in Berlin. A self-proclaimed ‘hands-on experience of history’, the museum allows visitors to feel and hold the objects on display, and uses game-playing as a way to deliver information.
Direct contact with a variety of textures and temperatures, including the heat of the fumaroles in the Azores, or the misty spray Iceland’s Skogafoss waterfall, is ideal for tactile learners.
Smell is probably the most powerful of the senses when it comes to triggering memories – almost everyone has a particular scent that reminds them of a past experience, making smell an effective way to help students cement their knowledge.
Those looking to inhale the aromas offered up by local cuisine may choose a visit to Switzerland’s cheese factory ‘La Maison du Gruyere’, or Sorrento’s Limonoro, where you’ll find some of Italy’s finest produce.
A cultural trip to Barcelona’s Boqueria Market offers more than just historical and language learning. It can also be an opportunity to absorb a plethora of exotic smells, helping to associate education with a positive event.
No school trip would be complete without tasting a selection of the local food on offer.
A geography trip to Iceland is more likely to be remembered with a stop-off at Efstidalur, where students can gain an insight into Icelandic farm life right in the heart of the Golden Circle, and taste some of the country’s most famous ice cream.
Most people associate Italy with pizza, so the promise of a meal at an authentic Italian pizzeria is enough to get students excited about a trip.
The world is filled with endless opportunities to stimulate the five senses, and allows both students and teachers to realise that learning doesn’t have to be limited to the four walls of a classroom. There are thousands of ways to engage young people, and many teachers would agree that the benefits of a school trip abroad extend far beyond what you might think.