After reading their blog and writing our own post about Gould Academy‘s 9th Grade class trip to China, we wanted to know more- about the program’s genesis, it’s philosophy & goals, and how it fits into Gould’s program.
We wrote Tucker Kimball, Gould’s Director of Communication and he was kind enough to fill us in and share some photos (see gallery below):
1. How does the China trip fit as part of the Ninth Grade Program? What concepts will the China trip provide, emphasize, teach, reinforce and teach?
Tucker Kimball (TK): This trip is part of Gould’s larger Four Point Program. Four Point, as it is known around campus, provides each class with an unforgettable experience that takes students out of their comfort zones and provides the opportunity for self reflection and growing self confidence. During the last week in February, ninth graders travel internationally, sophomores remain on campus engaged with local artists and the local community, juniors spend 8-10 days winter camping in the White Mountains, and seniors follow their own passions through independent projects that often take them around the globe.
For many ninth graders, this trip to China is their first experience traveling internationally. Imagine being 14 or 15 again and traveling to China? It is an amazing opportunity and one that is so important to Gould’s mission of preparing each student for the global community. Our ninth graders will come away more unified as a class and, individually, each one will have learned more about his/her self and that they are part of something larger.
2. Is the trip a culmination of a specific course of study? Do students study China specifically before the trip or does the ninth grade program revolve around teaching concepts and China is ‘this year’s trip?”
TK: There is an intentional, shared curriculum in place for our ninth graders that works in concert with ninth grade Four Point. Through their English and Human Geography courses, ninth graders learn about China’s landscape both physical and cultural through novels, poetry, and film. They’ve studied Taoism, Confucianism and the Cultural Revolution. So, they have a great background before they leave and are that much more engrossed in the culture when they arrive, culminating in a very powerful experience.
3. Does the entire ninth grade go?
TK: Yes, every year the entire ninth grade travels internationally. The Four Point Program is a graduation requirement.
4. What’s the goal for the students? How will they use the trip after their return? Will teaching and lessons continue drawing on the trip for the rest of the year?
TK: Each student is required to keep a 60 page journal based on themes they’ve covered in their English and Human Geography classes. When they return, each student creates a 500 word narrative from their journal. This serves as the script for a digital story that each creates layering narrative, photos and finally sound.
The reflection aspect of Four Point is a very important part of the program. The experience does not end once they return. It changes into something just as a powerful, as they begin to process the trip and how it has affected them and their view of their world. Self discovery through experience is something Gould is very good at.