In reflecting on the need to hold onto the big picture, I was reflecting on my first ever residential trip with children, in 1978. The fourth year juniors (aka yr6), went for a week to a study centre in Cirencester. There were trips to Roman remains, led by a very enthusiastic study centre owner, who brought out artefacts and told stories from the area in the evenings. The Cotswold Wildlife Park was a great success; the large animals held their attention and they were allowed to get “up close and personal” with smaller animals.
Then we visited the National Railway Museum. I’m not sure whether the party leader just had not had time to visit and structure activities more carefully, to match the needs of our group, as the shorthand approach was to use the worksheet provided by the museum. This was based on the need to find the details on some very small artefacts, such as names memorial cups and prices of specific tickets. Look at the image above. If the question was " How long could you stay on Birmingham New Street station platform, with a platform ticket?" the answer is very specific.
As a result, the children walked past the assembly of trains and moved to the galleries which held the smaller objects. It soon became clear to me that, if the trip continued in this vein, the children would have filled in a worksheet, but would have missed out on the experience of the trains.
The follow-up writing was of a very different quality. The children had a strong set of images on which to base their reflections, supported by their drawings and notes, which acted as an aide memoire.
From that point, any field trips that I led were based on guide sheets for the (parent) leaders to enable them to draw attention to specific areas of need, but then also open questions to allow them to reflect on broader issues. Children came back with their own notes and drawings, in addition to any guided answers/drawings. Topic areas allowed exploration, guided and independent. Follow up would be to explore at school and home for information to add to the general pot (Books, as ICT was not available). Talk supported learning and learning supported talk.
Knowledge/experience context, thinking, talk/interaction, recording, questioning, seeking answers, sharing, refining, revisiting…
Holding onto the bigger picture, rather than looking at small bits, enables bigger decisions that can have a bigger impact.