Field trips teach students real-world applications of classroom work

It seems that everyone has his or her own way of learning. No matter which kind of learner you are, experiencing a more real-life environment relevant to your class through a field trip usually proves to be beneficial to many. Though they become noticeably less in the later school years, field trips can help teach students how to apply what they have learned in classroom to the outside world. They also can be a faster way for students to learn because experiencing something in real life may require less taxing focus than classroom work.

AP Biology teacher Lori Brickley has been known to offer her students a few different field trips during the school year. So far, Brickley has taken her students to the Birch Aquarium in Scripps and has a hike planned for later on in the school year. She also took some of her students to the Kyoto Symposium at UC San Diego to watch a lecture and learn more about units that they had recently learned.

“If you want to make school relate to real life, real life is outside of school,” Brickley said.

Due to teachers teaching their own specialized classes in middle school and high school, the use of field trips noticeably declines. Taking more classes throughout a school day, after all, probably makes it more difficult to schedule a field trip that is convenient for all of the teachers. Students are also probably less likely to go on a field trip if it means missing out on another important class and having to make up work.

“In high school, when you go on a field trip for one class, you miss all the curriculum from the other classes,” Brickley said. “I think that that makes it really hard on the other teachers, and those of us that have a lot of respect for what our other colleagues are doing have a hard time justifying ‘My field trip is more important than your class.’”

Honors Humanities and Avid teacher Coleen Montgomery also finds this issue when arranging field trips in high school.

“If I decide to take my classes on field trips, then I am taking them away from three or four other teachers who really want them in class,” Montgomery said. “So I think it makes teachers hesitant to organize field trips because we feel the pressure to make sure that we’re not taking students away from their other teachers.”

Montgomery nevertheless sees the value of field trips to developing student’s knowledge and independence. Montgomery’s AVID class, for example, had the opportunity to go on an overnight trip to learn about colleges. Some students seemed reluctant to go because they would be missing other classes for one class’s field trip.

Furthermore, high school field trips for specific classes tend to be more expensive than those in elementary school. The costs of these activities limit the number of field trips that a class can take per year.

Not only does the cost increase, but high school students seemingly have more activities or extracurriculars that limit the times during which they could participate in a field trip for a single class. Sports, academic workload, and part-time jobs ought to be balanced with the amount of time dedicated in academics in order to maintain a somewhat healthy lifestyle, and sometimes a field trip that overlaps with those things can tip the balance a little too far.

Though they may be more difficult to work in as school goes on, field trips can be more memorable parts of a class to students than what actually happens in the classroom each day. A change of scenery and a sudden introduction to a new way of learning tends to stick in most student’s minds, and so field trips can benefit students in the way they remember and are able to apply material that they have learned.

Sophomore Brianna Floyd is currently an AP Spanish student who visited Spain last year.

“Over classroom learning, I think the benefit of travel and field trips are the fact that you get to do lots of things hands-on, instead of just in a classroom where you have to learn things from a textbook or from a lecture,” Floyd said. “You get to actually go out into the world and do things.”

When learning certain languages, traveling to a native country of that language can make a big impact on the way you understand the language or the speed in which you pick up pronunciations and applications of certain words.

“In Spanish classes, [and] in classes in general, you learn the textbook material,” Floyd said. “You learn exactly how the textbook wants you so say a certain word, but in different countries they have actual different ways of saying it.”

It seems apparent that there are certainly some classes which could benefit from field trips. Field trips in foreign language and science classes allow for the unique privilege of experiencing the subject matter in an applicable way, leading to the ardent endorsement of science teacher’s, like Brickley.
“I wish every teacher would take their kids on a field trip,” Brickley said. “Find something that has to do with your subject matter and get them out there and go… you [have got to] find where you can make it relatable.”

There is a strong argument for the value of field trips. However, field trips may not be relevant universally. Teachers in subjects such as math and English may be hard-pressed to find relevant real-world experiences that are easily accessed through a local field trip However, if a teacher believes that a field trip could positively contribute to what students are learning in class, they ought to consider exploring the idea of taking their students as a way to help students gain gain experience, knowledge, and memories that they may not be able to acquire otherwise.

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