School News: Live and Learn Through Experiential Education

Fall 2019

Participants at the Pingry School farm for workshops.SchoolNews_Pingry4.jpg
Participants at the Pingry School farm for the Politics of Food workshop and roasting marshmallows during the Blowing Up Your Curriculum workshop. Photos courtesy of The Pingry School

Seventeen teachers stepped out of a busy transit hub and upscale shopping mall and into the 9/11 Memorial in New York City. One teacher suggested that a small step around the edge of the memorial would help make the separation between city and memorial more distinct.

As part of an in-service day at The Pingry School (NJ), “Sacred Spaces?: Memorials and Malls at Ground Zero” was one of eight off-campus and 11 on-campus Experiential Education in Action workshops that 170 faculty and staff members participated in or led in fall 2018.

The leaders of this particular excursion—Julia Dunbar, history teacher and director of global education and engagement, and Rebecca Sullivan, visual arts teacher and experiential education coordinator—modeled how to design an effective, place-based curriculum to answer an essential question: “How do we use space to honor the past while also preparing for the future?” Other workshops included educational escape rooms, exploring the politics of food, and a chemistry lesson on blowing stuff up.

In March 2018, the Experiential Education Working Group—30 teachers and administrators—started discussing how they could align an in-service day with experiential and global learning, which were part of the school’s strategic plan. The idea of workshops and drawing on faculty expertise led to harnessing a shared passion for experiential education.

Since the in-service day, momentum around and excitement for experiential education have continued. During other in-service days that followed, faculty worked to integrate the principles they learned into their curricula. Teachers designed interdisciplinary projects in which students build musical instruments by hand, create a farm-to-table program, and tour New York City in an elective course, “New York in the 70s.”

Faculty members at Jockey Hollow in Morristown National Historical Park.
Faculty members at Jockey Hollow in Morristown National Historical Park for the Revolutionary Places workshop. Photo courtesy of The Pingry School
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