Friday, April 4, 2014

Field Trips: Beginning or End of Learning

The other day my daughter comes home to tell me her class is going on a field trip to the Museum of Idaho next week. I thought, what an awesome opportunity to let the kids do some hands on learning and perhaps even some project-based learning. However, when I asked her why they were going to the museum, she told me it was a reward for doing good on something or another. I pressed harder to find out what the instructional purpose behind the trip was, but she is 9 and I was getting nowhere. As I read the permission slip and flyer that was sent home, I was left with more questions than answers. Here is what the flyer said:

So here are the questions I had after reading this flyer.
  • What is the purpose of the Field Trip?
  • What will the kids be doing to prepare for the field trip? 
  • What is their assigned task while they are at the exhibit? 
  • What will they produce as a result of the visit?
  • How will they reflect on their visit and their new learning?
To be fair, my daughter's teacher is a young 3rd grade teacher and he might not understand why I wanted to know more, or perhaps even how he could make the trip better. So I wrote him the following email:

To which I received the following message this morning:

So apparently in 2014, in a world of budget cuts, global economies, technological advances, and high stakes testing, a field trip is the result of learning rather than an experience and tool for more learning! What burns me up more than anything else is that this field trip could be an awesome learning opportunity where the students could go, see, touch, listen, discuss, and produce some really fantastic artifacts that demonstrate what they learn. Then that student work could be used to show real evidence of learning instead of testing data. Then, next year when the school board needs to cut spending and field trips, they could have tangible evidence of student skills and knowledge. A field trip could be AWESOME SAUCE for learning. Students have a real opportunity to get out of the classroom and experiment with their knowledge, and do some extraordinary things.  But no, as teachers, we'd rather write home to the parent like they're idiots and give them reasons for going on a field trip instead of purposes. What a joke!  I'm through.