Should schools schedule more field trips for students?
Friday, June 12, 2015
The importance of field trips has never been felt more. As rising debates about changes in education policies and methods rage all over the country, more school districts are exploring their field trip calendars to incorporate interactive and innovative learning programs.
The latest to join the bandwagon is California with its "Local Control Funding Formula," which allows district leaders to collaborate with parents, teachers and students. They can now make autonomous decisions to allocate more funds to field trips. Surveys conducted by the administration showed an overwhelming majority of students asking for more field trips.
Other states would do well to follow these new school funding rules and initiate this kind of positive enthusiasm.
Field trips are fun because a day outside the classroom always is. But stepping away from the regular school environment entails so much more than a welcome break in routine. It provides students with hands-on learning experience with various elements they can touch or interact with.
These field trips can vary from museums, parks, nature centers, zoos and botanical gardens to even a different educational facility. Varied learning styles combining visual, auditory or kinetic methods create a comprehensive learning environment and offer a host of new experiences for the young minds.
These opinions have been shared by experts, teachers and parents alike. The nonprofit website Debate.org has received overwhelming responses (85-100 percent yes) to their queries like "Should schools give more field trips to students?" or "Should schools have more field trips?"
Through field trips students can have amazing learning experiences while they are having fun. Stepping away from their regular school environment actually opens up their minds and helps them retain lessons better.
Several studies conducted on the efficacy of field trips on students' lifelong success show how they can maximize their outcomes in school and beyond. Notable among them is the a 2013 study by the Wagner Group and the U.S. Travel Association, which found that people who have taken more educational trips as a student not only get better grades but are also more likely to graduate.
89 percent of the respondents said these trips have had a lasting impact on them, affected their education and career decisions positively. Witnessing real-life application of the lessons they are learning in school leads to better understanding of their subjects and their relevance.
In recent years, chopped budgets have slashed extraneous benefits like field trips to a large extent. Across the country, museums have reported a steep drop in school tours — by almost 100,000 per year, according to some. Along with budget issues, there has also been a shift in focus to raise student performance on standardized testing for math and reading rather than invest time on "frills."
But things are changing now, with more teachers and administrators looking at field trips as viable options to enrich their wards' minds. For example, teachers and parents of Falmouth STEM Boosters in Massachusetts have requested more funds for field trips from their school committee budget following a survey that showed greater need for them.
Others are being more innovative to circumvent the budget cut yet provide a more comprehensive learning experience for their students.
Gard Elementary School in Beardstown, Illinois, held a children's fair right outside the school, bringing the field trip experience to the students. They collaborated with various local organizations, police and fire departments and even farmers who brought nature and animals right down to their doorstep. Children had the opportunity to interact and learn outside their regular classrooms, at no cost to the school.
These developments show the rising awareness for alternative methods of learning to boost student intellect. Field trips are not new, but their importance and need is taking a new turn with educators and parents.
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