How important are extra-curricular activities at school? Do the extra-curricular activities truly help students or are they just for them to have fun and for teachers not to work so hard?
Making learning unforgettable
Surprisingly, a good trip or visit usually takes more teacher’s time and energy then a regular lesson. Teachers have to be creative in order to awaken students’ interests and provoke questions through the activities…, and then they have to go through all the organization, money collecting – when needed, health and safety arrangements…it can be a nightmare. Therefore, if you are not an enthusiast, better stay in your classroom and go home at 3.45pm.
However, if you want your students to be excited about learning …for example physics, what do you do? Oh, physics! Not many of us love this subject. However, the recent physics trip for students in years 10-13 from the English International School, Prague to CERN, a European Organisation for Nuclear Research in Geneva was a great success! How do we know? Because we got the following quote from an 18 year old student Yulia: “The flight was delayed …, so unfortunately we missed out on the shopping time! In compensation however, we got to visit an Information Communication Technology museum where we learnt many interesting facts about the way in which communication technology has developed from simple cave paintings to the GPS system.” (You can find her full story here). You know as a teacher, you won. Yulia didn’t mind the lost shopping, she summed up this trip: “This was one of the most fascinating trips that I have ever attended because it was not only about physics but about the experience which was undoubtedly unforgettable!” This is what we need – to make learning unforgettable…. Aha, an international school showing off, we have it here already…but you do not have to take students to Switzerland.
Touching the real world
We are celebrating great successes thanks to workshops with our parents… Uh, you say, what teenager wants to listen to somebody’s parents, when he/she has two of them at home and can’t wait to be old enough to stop listening to them. Well, for example, one of our fathers, who is CEO at DHL, was invited into school along with the DHL Human Resources manager, where they lead a workshop directly linked to Business Studies. The session was invaluable and made our students think about what they have learned in a more practical way. Another of our parents arranged for us to visit Radio Free Europe, complete with a question and answer session with a journalist. How did we know, we got it right? Because the students told us so later. Larysa, Yr 13 student, told us when she was leaving our school in June for the New York University: “The IB diploma has been a challenge but I managed to make great progress in a short while. Now, my dream is to work for Radio Free Europe as a freelance journalist.” This is a great example of what a good school does, working in partnership with parents to help uncover children’s talents and awaken their interest, which they will keep developing in the future.
Why does a school need to offer cricket or drama?
At the English International School, Prague, we offer over 50 clubs accross the school including a Wildlife club, Outside drawing and Ball games for our younger ones or Engineering and Science, Street Dance or Athletics for our older students. The clubs are often run after consultation with the students to ensure that they are relevant to the students. So why do we spend our time organizing this? These clubs offer students the opportunity to unwind at the end of a busy day but also help them to develop skills and knowledge which will help them academically, socially, pastorally and to make a positive difference to their world.
Residential trips – free time for students and teachers?
Taking students on a residential visit for anything from 2-5 days enables those students to grow emotionally, behaviourally, make new friends from different classes or age groups, and often affords them leadership opportunities which they may have never faced before. All of our residential visits here at the English International School, Prague, focus on the IBLP (International Baccalaureate Learner Profile) which teaches the students to be Inquirers, Knowledgeable, Thinkers, Communicators, Principled, Open-Minded, Caring, Risk-takers, Balanced and Reflective; attributes that we would all like to display regardless of our age.
Striking the balance
Striking the balance between academics and extra-curricular activities is not an easy task as some people believe in the primacy of the classroom, whilst others take a more holistic view as educating the whole student is just as important as academic study. Here at the English International School, Prague, we believe we have managed to strike this balance. Over the course of this academic year, each and every student has had (and most have taken) a whole multitude of opportunities on offer to them, attended 2 or 3 clubs per week and at the same time, made outstanding academic progress.
One often hears “school days are the happiest days of one’s life.” We want our students to enjoy all of it; education, learning, experience and fun – the mix of lessons, workshops, clubs, residential visits, visits to museums, galleries, sports’ tournaments, debating competitions, music and drama events and walks in the nature.
Petra Sedivcova & Chris Randell, Senior Leader – Student Experience, English International School, Prague