We read books to enhance our knowledge – both academic and non-academic. Books are the written records of the experiences, incidents and accidents directly or indirectly experienced by the authors. While reading an English, Indian or African novel, the readers hypothetically go beyond the boarders and visit different places. They experience a mental time travel as the story proceeds. So books, as Jhumpa Lahiri said, "let you travel without moving your feet". The writer's experience gets mingled with reader's metaphorical journey. Both together open the door to a new world where readers acquire and enhance knowledge. So, the basic knowledge comes from traveling various places and observing different cultures. In that case, it can be said that traveling actually enhances our knowledge, broadens our mind and provides us lifetime experiences. Therefore, besides having fun and amusement, we should travel to pursue knowledge. The tours we make, thus, should be educational.
The educational tours are often synonymously called "study tour" which is organised by a batch or group of students of an educational institution. Usually a study tour is a kind of pleasure trip to a historical or tourist place where students and teachers go to get rid of their mundane lives for a while. Inside the classroom, students are exposed to new ideas and knowledge. They learn so many things from their teachers. However, when they are outside of the classroom, they experience many new things practically. Sometimes, the same old thing may appear in a newer way to the students because of having a new kind of experience. So, educational tourism basically provides the students with the scope of experiential learning.The famous teacher and philosopher Confucius quoted, "I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand". If we closely observe our learning pattern, we may notice this. Let's take an example of phonetics. When we hear a sound, we forget it quickly. When we try to produce the same sound, we remember it for longer period. So, receptive and productive skills must be nurtured together in order to have a better and long lasting result. When something happens, we know it and forget it later on. When something happens to us, we remember it. You must have heard people saying, "you won't understand unless it happens to you". In an educational tour, all the learnings happen to the tourists practically. The incidents create memories in our cognitive system. And thus, we happen to remember and cherish it for a long time.
Educational tourism provides the students with the scope of spending a day or two with their teachers in an informal setting. Many students feel rigid and inflexible inside the classroom. This rigidity hampers their learning process. So, when they meet their instructors outside of the classroom, the invisible wall gets shattered automatically and the students feel much more flexible. This is why, they experience effective learning in an educational tour.
Educational tours do not just give the exposure to new places, it also opens up the door to observe different cultures and people. Cultural exchange itself is essential for learning new things. For example, I have heard of and read many articles on "Bhasu Bihar". As soon as I visited the place practically, I came to know and experienced a lot of new things. I came to realise that both me and the people of that particular part of area belonged to Bagura district, still we had cultural and linguistic differences. I actually enjoyed the differences, because their version of language was new to me. Their version of tradition was different than that of mine. I enjoyed, because I practically learned through experience.
Educational tour is undoubtedly super beneficial for the students. However, it is significantly advantageous for the teachers also. Educational tours help the teachers to broaden the syllabus of their courses. Tours expand the horizons of the teachers. They collect memories in the forms of stories and experiences. These experiences help teachers in contextualising and conceptualising any idea or lesson. The teachers can modify and develop the curriculum in a more meaningful and inspiring way. Teachers, after coming from an educational tour, can share and exchange new ideas to their colleagues too. In that way, the professional environment becomes more friendly and knowledgeably well supported.
Educational tours can appear to teachers in the form of seminars, workshops and conferences. As teachers, we can do either of two things. Either we can just simply present the paper and leave the place without having any adventure or we can wonder around the place and seize the day. The choice is open and not forced upon anyone. In a conference, teachers from different universities and countries share new ideas and thoughts. We present our papers and listen to other paper writers as well. Then we try to observe their culture and find out the similarities and dissimilarities. In this way, such a tour becomes a pleasure-cum-educational one.
When we go to visit a place, we go to enjoy our heterotopic space for the time being. The tours which have educational motive are more effective, adventurous and enjoyable. So, let the tours be made for enhancing knowledge along with having fun. Let the memory lane be filled with different stories and experiences. Let's promote educational tours more in school and college levels.
The writer is a Lecturer, Department of English Language and Literature, Premier University Chittagong.