Outside the Classroom
Outings for our students allow them to extend that which they do in the classroom into concrete experiences in the real world, thereby deepening their understanding of the information—and of the world itself.
At Post Oak, the very young child, up to the age of six, has a self-contained environment. It is orderly, beautiful, and perfectly prepared for the work of the students. At the same time, the rooms are framed by large windows looking out on gardens, which extend the space of the classroom. Students in the Young Children’s Community leave the classroom with their friends to visit the playground or to compost scraps. Primary students gain increasing responsibility and independence to walk alone or with friends to the gym for physical fitness, and to visit the library or administrative hallway.
Just as the caterpillar emerges from its cocoon, so is the Elementary child ready to emerge from the protective environment of the classroom into the world. The Elementary child wants to know about the natural environment and the human, cultural environment in ways that do not concern the younger child. They are voracious in their desire to find out about the world beyond the family and the classroom.
Outings are made to museums, theaters, and libraries, as well as to the post office, pet store, hardware and grocery stores, to parks and other natural environments. Sometimes the whole class will go as a group. At other times, small groups of students will go on an outing. These outings usually emerge from the work of the children in the classroom. We avoid the kind of “field trip” often taken in schools, where students are transported to the museum for a general tour, not because it relates to any work they are doing, but because it is good for them.
By the time a student reaches the Upper Elementary, classes are making overnight trips to destinations within Texas and beyond. These trips are well prepared for in the classroom and extend the child’s experience as he learns about the natural and cultural environment of our state and nation.
Overnight trips at the Elementary level have prepared students for extended weeks of overnight travel in our adolescent program. These trips are fully integrated into the curriculum and represent some of the best opportunities for personal growth and community building that the Middle School program has to offer. Students complete trip planning and/or meal planning for these excursions.
Dr. Montessori described the development of the adolescent as mirroring that of the infant/toddler. The infant/toddler is busy with the task of development of identity apart from objects around them, and then apart from their closest caregivers. The adolescent is busy with the task of identity development in the context of the larger world—their place in society. In order to accomplish this, they need to be provided with opportunities to try on adult roles, and interact fully independent of the institutions of family and school. Traveling with teachers and classmates provides a valuable context in which to explore positive development of identity within a supportive Middle School community, to contribute to that community in positive ways, and to experience academic work in other settings.
Building upon the foundation of organizational skills, self-reliance, independence and responsibility, High School is a time for students to explore the world around them, both with their community and as an individual. Students start the year with an Odyssey trip to connect with other new students and form the bonds that will last throughout their four years together and into adulthood. During the school year, opportunities abound to take advantage of all the Museum District has to offer in the form of internships, art classes at the MFAH’s Glassell Junior School, physical fitness at St. Thomas, and more. And international destinations await them for intensive mini-semesters in Jamaica, Costa Rica, London, China, or beyond. There is no waiting for the real world at Post Oak—it’s already here.