Academic Excellence in Travel, Inc. is an incorporated 501(c)(3) non-profit educational travel company...but that's not all.

 

We make education personal by providing experiences that complement traditional classroom education. We organize educational trips around certain topics or events, and we raise money to send deserving students on these trips. We take each and every student through the pathways of history, showing them the lessons of the past while they experience each moment first-hand.

Students learn through reading, study, and lectures both before and during each tour. Everything the student experiences during a tour is in historical context and the student can relate the learning to what they see, feel, and touch. In this way, the history they experience is retained, remembered, and applied. 

 

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. — Nelson Mandela

 

Education is crucially important to a society — no one disputes that except the uneducated.  Ask any ten people how students should be educated and you'll probably get ten different answers.  And most of them are usually correct.  Broadly-speaking, there are three styles of education in American schools today: auditory learning, teachers delivering lectures; visual learning, students looking at pictures, graphs and diagrams; and kinesthetic learning, using all five senses in the education process.  Most secondary education is a blend of the first two, while the third usually stops after elementary school.

Kinesthetic education should be a part of high school education alongside auditory and visual learning.  Some students learn best by hearing material and others by seeing it.  But kinesthetics draws upon all five senses and maximizes the educational process.  It is part of the curriculum in some schools, usually private or "gifted" public institutions, but the vast majority of high schools lack the time, the funding, or the motivation to incorporate a whole new learning style.  This is where AET hopes to step in and complement traditional classroom education.

The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled. — Plutarch

Academic Excellence in Travel exists to make education personal.  We hope to come alongside teachers and offer a new style of learning that will accomplish three goals:

We incorporate all styles of learning in our tours.  During a trip, participants will read and/or hear lectures in preparation for the day's travel (auditory learning).  While at a site, whether a battlefield or a museum, they will have the chance to interact physically and verbally with the subject matter (visual and kinesthetic learning).
We improve retention of what students have previously learned.  Again building on classroom instruction, our tours allow participants to see firsthand what they once had only read about or seen in pictures.  Whether the subject is art, history, music or literature, they will literally walk in the footsteps of those who went before.
We ignite a passion for learning in our students.  As Robert M. Hutchins (dean of Yale Law School and chancellor of the University of Chicago) once said, "The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives."  We know that learning doesn't stop after we walk out of the school doors.  AET seeks to make learning fun and to build a passion for it that will continue long after our students have left us.

Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and diligence. — Abigail Adams

What truly sets AET apart from other educational travel companies is our focus on a specific topic or field of study.  Anyone can jump in a car or board a plane and travel hoping to learn something.  But every aspect of an AET tour, from the pre-trip reading material to interactions with locals to discussions after a day's travel reinforces the learning process.  We never teach our students what to think but rather how to think.  We want them to use their minds to squeeze every ounce of learning from our tours as they can, not simply let them wander free and hope to learn something along the way.

AET's founder and president, Jon Streeter, has a personal experience with the power of kinesthetic education.  Read about it here.

 

We take them where events happened; on a cultural tour, we let them interact with real people and not actors or paid tour guides; on a literary tour, we show them where authors lived and worked.  We use students' foundational knowledge gained in a classroom and build upon it a house of wisdom and understanding.

 

I have always been an auditory learner.  Tell me something once or twice and I remember it (for the most part).  When I was in high school, I never liked activities that involved drawing pictures or watching films -- I always thought I don't need this, just tell me what I need to know and I'll take the test.  I think that a lot of students feel this way in school.

When I went to college to study history, my attitude never really changed.  I immersed myself in books and journal articles and loved every minute of it — I didn't need pictures or anything else to help me understand the material.  But then something changed.  I spent some time  at Oxford University in Britain, where I studied the French Revolution.  One day, while at the Bodleian Library, I had the chance to hold a page of Napoleon Bonaparte's diary written during the French invasion of Russia in 1812.  Suddenly, my understanding of the campaign changed.  I can't really explain it, but it was like I could smell the gunpowder on it.  Suddenly, I had a whole new understanding of history.  When I went back to my books, the words were no longer just words — they were a story with life and depth.

After I graduated from college in 2006, I went on a battlefield tour of Western Europe.  We traveled across France, Belgium and Germany visiting some of the most famous sites of the two world wars.  I had traveled quite a bit in the past — to Gettysburg, Lexington and Concord, and even to the dreaded Dachau concentration camp in Bavaria.  But while I was there, these sites were just wide-open spaces with a bunch of monuments.  It didn't really feel like I was there.  But one day, while we were at Dunkirk, our professor sat us down on the beach and told us the story of the Nazi invasion of France in 1940.  He used a stick to draw a map in the sand that showed how the armies moved and fought.  Again, like when I was at the Bodleian Library, my understanding changed.  After he finished the lecture, Dr. Conner allowed us to walk along the beach and climb (legally) on the many ruined structures found there.  I could smell and taste the salt on the air, feel with my own hands the immovable concrete of the bunkers, hear the calls of the gulls.  I realized that the soldiers at Dunkirk fleeing the Nazi onslaught in June 1940 experienced these same feelings — along with the terror of war — and I began to understand the event in a whole new level.  A few days later, on Omaha Beach in Normandy, the same thing happened.  What I had read about in the past now came alive as I walked in the footsteps of history.

This is the power of kinesthetic education, using all five senses to teach students.  You can show pictures to visual learners and lecture endlessly to auditory learners, and they will know and remember the material.  But when you take any student, regardless of his or her learning style, to a place and let them learn by seeing, touching, smelling, tasting, and hearing, they will begin to understand the material.  Academic Excellence in Travel allows our students to do just that.  On a history tour, we take them where events happened; on a cultural tour, we let them interact with real people and not actors or paid tour guides; on a literary tour, we show them where authors lived and worked.  We use students' foundational knowledge gained in a classroom and build upon it a house of wisdom and understanding.

.