Grade 5 students from The Gillispie School recently “sailed” into the year 1774 for an overnight experiential field trip aboard the San Diego-based ship the Californian. While rotating through the roles of various types of crew members, the students cleaned the decks, hauled cargo, and assisted “indentured servants” with the preparation of meals. Students also learned navigation skills by charting a course from Boston to the Caribbean, and completed night watch shifts that ended at 1:00 a.m.
Following a teambuilding exercise involving rowboats, student Sayeh Kohani noted, “Rowing in unison and rhythm wasn’t quite as easy as we had anticipated. The captain’s direction and the chanting kept us going at the same rate. We learned that working in unison as one body would take us far.” While one group rowed, another learned about the canons and other weapons used during the American Revolution. Students also learned knot tying techniques and wrote letters home to their families.
One aspect of Gillispie’s social studies curriculum is for each grade level to focus on a different continent to help throw into relief the history and geography of the United States being studied across the years; Grade 5 uses the continent of Europe to make comparisons. Remembered one pair of students, “We learned what early American sailors went through—tough work!—to give us freedom today.”
Part of the Maritime Museum of San Diego, the Californian is the official tall ship of the state of California.