The Great Debate: Are field trips beneficial or not?
January 27, 2020
For many years, students have been going on field trips to locations to help better understand the topic of the class. Field trips are a rare event that occurs once or twice a year. Two students debate whether or not field trips are beneficial to students or not.
Field trips are beneficial
There is a maxim for learning capabilities inside the classroom. Teachers and resources make it so that all of the information is there, and some projects such as labs for science classes even give students a chance to test their application of skills learned in the classroom. However, there is usually not that much opportunity to expand learning or to put it into practice outside of the classroom. School trips create that opportunity. School trips are able to expand a student’s learning and let them expand on skills outside of the classroom. The Madrigals spend an exorbitant amount of time learning their repertoire and perfecting it, and usually take many days in December traveling to different venues to show the skills and music they’ve accumulated over the past three months. These venues – such as the Matheny Medical and Education Center for children with disabilities and the Center for Hope Hospice – are not just places to perform for the Madrigals, but are also important character builders that help build upon values of community service. The Comparative World Religions class teaches students about religions in all walks of life: their distinctions, their characteristics, their values. Students have a lot to learn from that class; however, there is a personal nature to the course’s curriculum that cannot be taught by simply sitting in a desk for forty minutes every day. That’s why the class does take trips, such as the one recently taken to a Sikh Gurdwara, aided by Sikh junior Rai Bindra, to make a personal connection to the information learned in the classroom. “Reading books is one thing, but visiting the gurdwara itself engages an individual to see a culture in action,” Rai said. “I can read a passage from a book and call it a day, but actually visiting the place itself shows the reality of the life within.” While the material taught at Bernards High School is valued by students, parents, and faculty alike, everyone accepts that there are limitations to what can be taught in the classroom. That is what makes class trips so valuable: it is the school taking an initiative to expand a student’s learning in ways that would not be traditionally possible. “School trips are beneficial to learning,” said junior Ben Aharoni. “They let me learn in a new way in my classes. It’s engaging and I don’t learn best having to sit down 100% of the time.” That does not mean that every single excursion on a big yellow bus is going to lead to some profound enlightenment that was just out of reach of a student sitting around in class, waiting for the bell to ring. It simply means that trips are an additional layer to learning, and that the school and individual classes have an interest in promoting our education and livelihood by making those trips possible. The benefits of trips are evident and profound and should be treated as such.
Field trips are not beneficial
In middle school, students would always look forward to their class trip. Once high school began, field trips took on a different meaning, usually being reserved for the students in electives or extracurriculars. While field trips can be a nice time for students to learn outside of the school building, ultimately school trips are not beneficial to student learning. Taking the day off from traditional education may seem great, but ultimately field trips can take more from students than what they give. When a student is on a field it puts them at a disadvantage compared to their peers. Students on these field trips are missing valuable class time compared to their peers who are back at school. The worst part about this is that when a student returns it is up to them to find them time to meet with their teacher and learn the material that was missed. While field trips can be fun they also take an incredible amount of planning, from transportation, to meals, and sometimes even having to find a place to lodge the number of students on the trip overnight. Not to mention countless board approval. Not only is planning an extreme stresser when it comes to field trips but so is the liability aspect. This being because of the students not being in a controlled environment and the risk of injury can be higher. The worst part when it comes to class trips is the expense. Whether it is be a $50 field trip to listen to a speaker or $1,600 baseball trip to Florida, the expense is there and must be paid by the student. If one cannot afford the field trip they will be the ones missing out on the experience their peers shared putting students who simply cannot afford these trips at a disadvantage. In rare cases, students may miss a valuable lesson or project based around the trip. Senior Isabella Brito said, “I love going on field trips but I always stress about the work I miss while I am gone.” While field trips are suppose to make learning “come alive”, in a poll of 50 students 40 percent of students felt that most of their previous trips did not have any educational benefit. Dr. Neigel said, “There is a form that a teacher needs to fill out with where the trip is going, when, for how long, and what the cost will be to students and the district. Once the form is completed, the nurse has to review it. After that, it comes to my office where we make sure that there aren’t any conflicts with the date and scope of the trip. After I sign the form, it goes to the central office. Each trip is reviewed by the assistant superintendent, superintendent, and the curriculum committee, before finally being approved by the BOE at a meeting. The process usually takes about 30 days.” Field trips can be great for students to get hands on and explore outside the classroom in nontraditional settings but a successful field trip is all about the planning. Senior Caroline Hunnewell said, “If a field trip is not planned well it can ruin the experience entirely. If there is no organization, especially on a long trip, than students will become bored and ultimately leading to more issues.” All in all, field trips can be a great source of learning if done properly. If field trips are not done properly they lose their purpose entirely.