In the beginning, Field Trips in the Gimnasio Moderno started to take place near the school and with the aim of learning different topics of science, geography, mathematics and many other disciplines in an experiential way. With time, they became a tradition, and the field trips quickly became part of the programming of school tasks, that is, the curriculum, and became part of the formative core of the students of the school.
Mister Tomas Rueda says:
The children of today, the men of tomorrow, must learn to know directly and personally all the corners of the country; they must mix with each other, they must receive at the age when their soft natures are capable of engraving lasting impressions, notions of patriotism, of faith, of fellowship, of love for high civic duties, of enthusiasm for the flag; that they know, as they walk along the roads, the needs of the different regions, and seeing closely in their pilgrimages the miseries that afflict their compatriots, the desire to help them and to improve their sad condition is growing in their childish spirits; May they learn to know and love the land where God wanted them to see the first light, and at the same time as they explore the forests and travel the plains to strengthen their bodies, may they read with the eyes of their soul the history of their country and penetrate it to the point of following step by step “the footprint he left on the sand of the great generation of heroism; may there be no more glorious sun for them from now on than the one that illuminates the green fields of Colombia. (Rueda. T, 1913).
Gimnasio Moderno was the precursor and main promoter of field trips in Colombia. Francisco Giner de los Ríos, who dedicated his life to the new school and was known by Mister Agustín Nieto Caballero, had already stated the importance of leaving the classroom to learn in context for education in Spain. Miguel Fornaguera i Ramón, who arrived in Colombia in 1914 with the intention of discovering this country geographically and scientifically, approached the founder of the Gimnasio Moderno to make the project of field trips a reality. The objective was to follow the steps of Giner de los Ríos. Miguel Fornaguera studied at the Escola de Mestres in Catalonia and it was from there that he brought many of the ideas that would materialize in the Gimnasio.
Miguel Fornaguera joined the school in 1915 as director of boarding school and was part of a select group of teachers among whom were Ricardo Lleras, Tomás Rueda Vargas, Flora Gonzáles, Gustavo Santos, Santiago Boshnell, Ricardo Gómez Campuzano and Captain Padilla. They were strongly committed to the idea of school hiking that Fornaguera remembered from his time at the Escola de Mestres.
In 1916 they managed to consolidate the group of hikers alongside teachers Luis Enrique Reyes, José Vicente Vargas, Tulio Gaviria, and the then principal, the Spaniard Pablo Vila. They firmly believed that hiking was the best way to promote many learning processes and to make the Active School visible, since it would not only be learned in context but they also thought that one should get out of the conventional classroom routine.
From that moment on, the field trips officially began and soon became a symbol of this institution. This is how the School Field Trips are an essential part of the pedagogical project of the Gimnasio Moderno.
Agustín Nieto Caballero says about these:
“The greatest satisfaction of a school will be to have a great number of opportunities to learn. Those occasions are presented, like no other activity, by the excursion, which has both leisure and study. Instead of giving lessons with relief maps and stuffed animals, the excursion penetrates life itself, and shows us things as they are. It awakens an interest that in turn leads to other interests. It is not a simple hike: it is the most profitable of the studies that the young person can make, who, without doing so on purpose, prepares his future”.
The field trips offer the opportunity for our students to educate themselves in all spheres of life. Through them they get to know people, villages, regions, learn to love the country and their students build environments of solidarity and fellowship. They also lay the foundations for them to form themselves, fulfilling their objectives in spite of the difficulties. The objectives of the excursions are part of the school’s ideology: to educate in the academic (trip of knowledge) and to model the spirit: the Beautiful Character, the Personal Effort, the fellowship and the Hiking Spirit.
The field trips should be a space of reconciliation for the Colombia of the 21st century where the awareness of caring for the other and the love for life are a fundamental principle. On the other hand, among the challenges we face today is that of generating environmental awareness, learning to respect the environment without leaving a trace in our trips, generating actions that seek not to affect the natural and cultural wealth of our country.
In order to achieve the objectives that were initially set more than one hundred years ago with the field trips and to connect them to the needs of education and the country we are facing today, the School has rescued some actions from the past and has started to implement new strategies that aim to connect the field trips with the academic, formative and spiritual process of our students. The field trips should give our young men the possibility to get to know as many ecosystems as possible in our country. We also hope to give them the opportunity to interact with different communities inside and outside Colombia, which live diverse realities, because through this contact we will be able to enrich the vision of our children and young men.
The excursions are a different academic space, not just a trip, they are just another classroom where the Active School flourishes and knowledge is strengthened thanks to the didactics and dynamics of outdoor education. Our aim is that each outing, whether it be for one or several days, has the capacity to positively transform our students.
This post is also available in: Spanish