Are School Field Trips Worth It? 2
Schools often debate about whether or not field trips are beneficial and worth the cost. The discussion goes between physical cost and the academic benefits for the students. As school budgets get tighter the amount of field trips taken within the school year gets cut and teachers have to raise the money or ask families to pay for the trip. Many schools always have required or are currently requiring that field trips provide an educational benefit before they are approved, yet the educational benefit does not always mean approval because of cost. Field trips also mean extra work for educators, the debate is whether the time put into the field trip is beneficial to the entire school community. Because of the economy and the extra work many think that field trips are not important enough to take, add in safety issues and some believe field trips should not happen. The benefits can far out way the costs if one examines the field trip experience from many different perspectives. The perspectives of the students, the teachers, and the parent chaperones should be thought of before judging if field trip opportunities benefit the school communities and the students.
A field trip is any excursion that takes the students outside the classroom, The Merriam-Webster Dictionary adds “in order to experience first hand observations.” The Free Dictionary by Farlex states that a field trip is “a school trip to gain firsthand knowledge away from the classroom.” Therefore, a field trip can be as simple as going to a nearby park to look at local plants or as complex as days away exploring team building exercises or a nation's capitol. The experience requires careful planning and preparation for the teacher-in-charge and when necessary the workers in charge of field trips at the place to be visited, planned activities, transportation, and acquisition of funds (Bitgood, 1989). After the field trip there should be an evaluation of the experience to see what could be changed and what
Are School Field Trips Worth It? 3 needs to be done differently or more effectively to make the trip better for everyone (Bitgood, 1989). A field trip is often more then just a field trip, it is part of the class' curriculum and therefore is hard to evaluate as a single experience, many factors should be considered (Bitgood, 1989). Educators must examine how the field trip fits in with the curriculum and what the students took away from the experience. A field trip should always strive to use every unique advantage provided within the informal learning environment the class has ventured to (Bitgood, 1989). A planetarium, for example, brings the stars closer and showcases them in an interactive and somewhat more natural environment, a textbook cannot give such an experience, so a teacher needs to make sure that students can utilize this aspect of a museum if it is available. A visit to a zoo or to a farm puts students face-to-face with animals they may never see outside such places through the course of their lives because of one factor or another so the teacher should provide the students with as much hands on experience with animals as possible (Bitgood, 1989). All this work, all the time spent on preparation and execution of the trip, are key points brought up by those wanting to cut back on field trips and who believe the cost is greater than any perceived benefits. The time it takes for teachers to plan and execute a field trip is debated as time away from academics and preparing lessons (Bitgood, 1989). These individuals are not looking at the whole experience and not evaluating the experience from all perspectives, they are just seeing the bottom line cost. Individuals...