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Field Trips

September 11, 2015

When our kid was in public school I was generally opposed to field trips, as the educational pay-off didn’t seem to balance out the loss of instructional time due to transportation.  We live in a large city, and it takes a long time to get anywhere, plus it takes a lot of time to organize kids at both ends.  On the field trips I went on, usually the kids were given minimal instruction and tended to run a bit wild.  I don’t doubt that there are a better ways to run field trips, either through the use of museum docents or through more advance preparation by teachers (or parents).  It just didn’t seem to happen much.

I know field trips are often a big part of homeschooling, and the freedom from a school schedule facilitates visiting cultural centers at off-peak times.  We just came back from a week of travel, and I’m counting three of the days as field trip days.  We visited a living history museum, which presented farms and villages from different phases of the westward expansion and settlement, and from different ethnicities.  We also hiked a glacial lake, and saw the boulders deposited by the retreat of the glacier.  This followed a visit to a geology museum.  I’m hoping that these trips made a bigger impression than just reading about these things.  A recent study on the educational value of field trips suggests that recall of facts from museum visits is indeed quite strong.  And I’m pretty sure the only reason I remember much about glaciers is having experienced their effects on the terrain under my feet.

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