It’s a fact that our learning ability is far greater when we are at ease with ourselves, and this is why school trips have long been considered not only recreational but extremely educational too. School trips augment the course materials and provide reinforcement for lessons learned are being learned by establishing a thematic connection as well as a sense of unity of theory and practice—depending upon the course and on the school trips planned. I remember the best school outing ever. It was a Grand Canyon Day Trip package organized in secrecy by the parents and teachers. You can just imagine our faces when we thought we were in for a double dose of mathematics only to be told to leave our coats on as we’re off on the day trip of a life time.
There were many great school trips and I guess I was lucky as I know that not all schools and families are in a position to lay on these educational excursions. I remember one summer, as a supplement to advancement courses for at-risk high school students, one community college teaching team ushered the students to the Steinhart Aquarium and then on to the Haight Ashbury District—both in San Francisco, California.
Students were provided round-trip transportation, free bag lunches, entrance tickets to the aquarium, itineraries, disposable cameras and guide sheets (for the “Summer of Love” segment of the excursion), and adult escorts (one adult for every five students).
At the aquarium, the tour involved a rare behind-the-scenes walk-through, which entailed two trained and practiced aquarium staff speaking on the various marine life that were kept in special tanks and pools in the underground channels of the aquarium; and a free roaming period for observing the public tanks. Some students made use of the cameras, taking photographs (where allowed), for example, in the Skulls exhibit room, where over 1,500 skulls of various mammals are displayed on gallery-style walls.
For the “Summer of Love” leg of the tour—which the students did after lunch—each was guided by handout that contained information for a Haight Street scavenger hunt: each landmark had a historical background and was to be “found” and photographed (for a Photoshop session upon return to the school). In addition, the students had read a “Hippie Timeline”, which stimulated their interest in the arts, the music, the literature, and the legal, social, and political atmosphere of the period. (The timeline was taken from hippy.com.)
From civil rights acts and black student arrests to the music of Bob Dylan and the onset of LSD research to Kennedy, Johnson, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X to the founding of Amnesty of International and the Vietnam War—the students found visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and other materials for art projects, English assignments, Study Skills work, and even Career exploration.
These combination school trips, then, contributed to a learning experience that in turn contributed to outcome-based “products”… short films, digital photography, journaling and reviews, and comprehensive evaluations.
I think every school should invest time and budget into school trips. My English pen pal from yesteryear used to write about how her high school was arranging a day trip to France, sailing from Newhaven to Dieppe, and then later on in the year Paris day trips were in the planning the older kids. Interactive, educational, and thoroughly enjoyable. May there always be school trips