Principia France Trip Takes Experiential Learning to the Next Level

“What if . . . ?”

That simple question planted a seed that quickly blossomed into an extraordinary collaboration and cross-curricular learning opportunity for 23 Principia Upper School students who participated in a weeklong educational trip to Paris and northwestern France in October.

Inspired, in part, by a set of Upper School trips to the World War I Museum in Kansas City—that have woven together the study of history and literature—French language teacher Veronica Kline reached out to her colleagues who teach U.S. history, art, and art history. Her quick e-mail basically asked an educator’s dream question: “What if . . . what if the sky were the limit and we could combine the study of each of our subject areas on site, in France?”

She had barely hit the send button, when the other three teachers sped down the hallway to meet with her! The team worked closely to develop an integrated curriculum that would connect all activities and sites on the trip to the historical relationship between France and the United States and to the two countries’ interwoven political, artistic, and architectural development.

For several weeks prior to the trip, students immersed themselves in the history of pre- and post-Revolutionary France, the Napoleonic era, and the two World Wars (in addition to French conjugation, bien sûr!). And while being introduced to the variety of styles in art and architecture over this period, from post-Renaissance and Rococo to political propaganda and Impressionism, the students also developed their own artistic skills and learned to work with watercolors in the studio.

“As a student, this trip has broadened how I see language, art, and history, and how these and other subjects all interconnect,” said one student.

“It’s incredibly cool to realize that the whole world is a giant history lesson just waiting to be learned,” summed up another student.

Does your school do something similar?

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