The LA Times recently ran an article on the decline of field trips in schools, especially since the establishment of No Child Left Behind. Under scrutiny and being analyzed for revision, the No Child Left Behind act has been accused of forcing teachers to focus on preparation for standardized tests at the expense of the overall learning experience. In essence, they will be so busy teaching the children to memorize facts that they will fail to teach them to learn. The article in the Times, written by Seema Mehta, suggests that funding for field trips has declined due to the focus on standardized learning. The teachers featured in the article worry that the educational experience suffers with the decline in field trips.
According to the article, there are groups who have recognized the decline and, believing field trips to still be a valuable component to a child’s education, have found ways around the problem. Museums have tailored and enhanced their exhibits to comply so well with the standardized requirements that administrators are more willing to include the trips into their schedules. Target was also moved to action, creating a grant program for educators for the purpose of field trips.
Perhaps the first and best intervention for this dilemma will be for parents and educators to continue to champion the value of extra-classroom experience for a child’s learning environment. If field trips continue to decline in the elementary levels, perhaps educational tours at the secondary and college level will gain momentum. My first trip out of the country was to Colombia, South America, one year after graduating from high school. Possibly the most reluctant student on the journey, I believe now I had the most to learn. That trip awakened me to life in a way I had never imagined. The unfamiliar sights and sounds stirred my senses
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