chapter  8
Learning on field trips and study visits: disrupting assumptions through listening, observation and reflection
ByLONE HATTINGH
Pages 8

This chapter reports and reflects on a week-long field trip to Denmark, undertaken by a group of 15 students in their final year of a BA Honours degree in Early Childhood from Bath Spa University. While some students were studying full time, intending to train as teachers on completing their Bachelor degree, others were employed in Early Years settings alongside their university studies. The field trip was arranged as a supplement to final year degree modules, with the purpose of enriching and broadening students’ knowledge and understanding of approaches to early childhood education. Gilbert et al. (2013) suggest that students develop deeply reflective thinking, and are able to consider and apply different perspectives in their own professional development as a result of the transformative nature of experiential

learning on residential field trips. An initial aim of the field trip was to enable the student participants to challenge their own assumptions about early childhood education, and to consider their experiences in the light of cultural and social contexts which were unfamiliar to them. Dahlberg and Moss (2005: 63) call for a ‘recognition of multiple discourses which encourage dialogue and reflection’. Practical considerations of the field trip were taken into account in arranging and coordinating visits to a range of settings in Copenhagen with the aim of providing a window onto early schooling, nursery and forest experiences within a Nordic context. Students visited each setting for a full day where possible; they did this in groups of between three and six, and stayed in these groups throughout the week. This provided each student with a partner with whom they could share ideas and reflections, while helping each other to find their way around the city. One day was set aside for a university visit in Copenhagen, where students were given the opportunity to meet and have lunch with other students, and to attend a lecture. This chapter begins by considering the participating students’ reflections. This is followed by a discussion of the relevance of these reflections in relation to theoretical insights and perspectives. Finally, some suggestions for reflection and further reading are provided. Throughout this chapter, adults working with children in the settings are referred to as ‘teachers’.