Dr. Montessori saw the classroom as only one part of a child’s elementary experience. The elementary classroom is a protected and limited environment, one designed to help children practice skills and organize their intellect. The second integral component of the elementary experience is “Going Out” – exploring and working beyond the confines of the classroom. A Going Out is a small group excursion, devised, organized and attended by a small group of children who are seeking more information on, or who want direct experience of, a specific topic. For example, if three children have been working on a project about different types of rock, they may decide to go out to the Marin headlands to observe the different types of rocks along our coastline.
The process of planning and doing a Going Out is just as important as the destination and is part of the student’s work. The students themselves make contact with the destination, figure out the transportation, arrange for a chaperone, and, in the case of older children, conduct their own risk assessment. The more we empower children to own their learning in such a way, the more they will gain in terms of intellectual value and mental, social, and emotional development. The process of planning a Going Out involves questioning, reasoning, social skills, organizational skills, forethought, co-operation, appreciation, and adventure. In short, it requires and inspires all the skills needed by well-functioning members of society. Going Out is the activity that, by its very nature, brings together all the other skills the children work on in the classroom.