Travel as professional learning challenges thinking & grows leaders: 10 reasons why #SCILvision12

The SCIL Vision Tour 2012 group travelled together for almost two weeks. Most only met one another for the first time in a hotel lobby in Helsinki, tentatively shaking hands with new travel buddies and wondering what the next fortnight held in store. Then, as we hugged and said goodbye in another hotel lobby, this time in London, we were all grateful for the shared experiences.

The details:

  • 13 days, starting in Helsinki and finishing in London
  • 10 people – 3 school principals, 4 senior leaders, 1 business person/entrepreneur and Stephen Harris and I, the tour leaders.
  • From 3 countries – Australia, New Zealand and Rwanda. Our colleague from Rwanda, also the business person/entrepreneur, joined us for the Europe week, seeking to gain ideas for growing the capacity of schools in his country.
  • Visiting 5 countries – Finland, Denmark, Sweden, The Netherlands and UK
  • Spending time in schools, universities, libraries, co-working spaces and a science centre

This is the third study tour that we have run at SCIL – we deliberately call it the ‘Vision Tour’, as the purpose has been to lift vision. Not every school we visited was an architectural wonder or was pedagogically innovative, but each had something unique to offer. An important part of the journey was the people we met along the way – passionate educators, who love young people and are seeking ways to make a difference in their lives. The most inspiring of these were in the Manchester-Hull region of the UK.

As professional development, this opportunity is unlike any other, here’s why:

  1. Vision is lifted when I take myself out of my familiar context
  2. Thinking is challenged when I analyse the different ways the world works
  3. Ideas are shaped and reshaped through robust dialogue with hosts and amongst travellers
  4. Radar is always ‘on’ to learn from every experience and interaction
  5. Gain understanding of how culture impacts strategy
  6. The people we meet – Leadership insights from international peers as they share their own journey
  7. Talk to students to hear about their learning
  8. Professional learning starts over breakfast and concludes after dinner
  9. Shared experiences connect and increase accountability
  10. Close bonds are formed amongst the group

We had many wonderful experiences as a group and look forward to our further connections. Toward the end of the tour, on our final flight back to London half the group went for lunch at a Manchester Airport restaurant. I walked past, just as they emerged and we headed toward the gate and heard one say, “That was the best conversation of the whole trip.”  And I missed it!

The 2012 Vision Tour took months of preparation and the two weeks seemed to fly, yet it was so rich. It reinforced the value of such a unique opportunity for professional learning.

We have our thinking caps on for 2013. Care to join us?


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