Field Trips: Worth the Hype?

Danielle Martin Thinking back to our elementary school days, I’m sure we can all agree that one of the most exciting things in the world was when our teachers announced a field trip. One freshman summed it up perfectly when she said, “Field trips used to feel like an extended recess.” As we grow older, however, opinions begin to differ. Some remain in favor of learning beyond the classroom, including Matt Maggiore, who exclaimed, “Field trips are a blast!” Others question the importance of field trips and whether they are truly worth missing class for. Jake Milner argued, “It’s the same thing as early dismissal. Missing class is fun but losing a free period because you have to meet with your teacher isn’t.” And Sargon Yousef, who couldn’t make up his mind, added, “As much as I love missing class […] Field trips are only worth it if they are educational.” The most interesting conversation I had with a classmate was with one who attempted to get at the purpose behind field trips. A sophomore, who requested to remain anonymous said, “Most students enjoy field trips because they see it as an opportunity to miss other classes, but I’m sure that that’s not the teachers’ intention. So, what’s the point?” Unable to answer this student’s question, I took it upon myself to get a teacher’s perspective on the matter. Given that the majority of field trips are for linguistic classes, who better to interview than Ms. Dragonetti, the head of the department? As Ms. Dragonetti says, “The purpose of a field trip is typically to enhance the curriculum. We take students to museums to see exhibits that have to do with the culture of Spain and Latin America or to see a movie or play performed in Spanish. Usually it’s in some sort of cultural framework and gives students the opportunity to interact in a language.” In fact, just this past Tuesday, Spanish 4 classes went on a field trip to the National University of Mexico branch located in Chicago. While there certainly were some who were eager to participate in this field trip, the vast majority of those who I talked to weren’t too thrilled. One sophomore, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “We had to make our own way there and we had to miss three classes. It was just kind of a hassle.” Another chimed in with, “We had already done research on the college before, and I already knew most of the information they told us. It was meant to teach us about the Mexican school system, but I think I could’ve done the research on it and not missed classes.” For better or for worse, the main reason why students are apprehensive to go on field trips is because of their fear of missing class and falling behind. When I asked Ms. Dragonetti about her thoughts on the matter, she said, “Typically we don’t do field trips in the last couple weeks before the end of a semester because teachers don’t like kids to be missing classes when they are doing review or final projects of some sort.” She later added, “We don’t plan field trips lightly. We always have a purpose in mind, and we don’t take students out of classes without a very good reason. From my point of view, a field trip is mandatory. We have to give two weeks notice, and we think that is enough time for the student to rearrange their schedules and do what is necessary. The only thing that would change that is if the teacher said so and so needs to review with the class. The teacher always has the option of preventing a student from going on somebody else’s field trip.” Though I talked to over ten students, I still couldn’t determine what the general attitude towards field trips is. When asked her opinion, Hannah Scholes said, “They can be fun and useful, but the excitement of field trips is usually overrated.” Madeline Cohen, another sophomore, offered, “I feel that they are an important component of a well-rounded curriculum.” Who do you tend to agree with more? Are field trips overrated? Or are they key to Latin’s curriculum? Share your thoughts on the matter in the comments section below!  ]]>