Field trips: Educational value or waste of time?

John M.

Staff Writer

One of the most enjoyable parts of school is going on field trips – being able to leave the classroom and experience new places that students normally would not see. Field trips are an interesting part of the education system and create unique opportunities to learn new information. However, not everyone believes in the value of field trips, which are controversial because critics say they cost too much money to run and are a waste of time. Ultimately, most teachers argue that field trips are an educational tool and are very popular among students.

Field trips provide education not available in a traditional classroom setting. Originating back in the 19th century when geology teachers would take their students to see natural formations like rocks, waterfalls, and mountains, field trips have evolved into art classes visiting art museums, history classes visiting historic sites, and science classes visiting zoos and aquariums. Field trips allow students to have new experiences like actually seeing a historic battlefield unlike just hearing about it. Many experts say that seeing a certain place will help students connect to it and remember it more. Dr. Krista Webb, AP World History and AP U.S. History teacher, says that a field trip “makes learning real for students.” She means that field trips creates a real, tangible experience instead of learning about it in a classroom.

Many appreciate that field trips allow students to get out of a classroom and see an actual piece of art or what a certain species of animal looks like, as viewing flat pictures is a book is just not as effective as seeing and sometimes touching the objects themselves. Josh Thrift, a 10th grade student, says that he likes “getting to see and learn things you would not have in school.” Also a benefit to living in Woodstock is being able to be close to many historic sites and museums in Atlanta. A class could go on a field trip during the day and be back by the end of the school day.

With many benefits to field trips, opponents question whether there is any real learning value to go with them. These opponents to field trips claim that they are a waste of time because there is no learning value at looking through a museum or historic site. However, teachers counter this argument by saying that there is learning value in not being in a traditional classroom. A study conducted in 2013 claimed that art students, after seeing an art piece in person on a field trip, were more likely to remember the artwork than just looking at it in a classroom. Many teachers, including Dr. Webb, promote the learning value to field trips. Dr. Webb says, “Most definitely, to me, [field trips are] the best education.” An article released by the New York Post says that more field trips when a child is young can lead to better test scores later on; the article argues that putting students in different scenarios better prepares them for future activities. Other teachers agree that field trips are valuable learning sources and that students are more likely to engage in their learning from a field trip over learning about the material in a classroom. Most field trips do have a positive learning experience for students, as they bring the material alive.

Most students enjoy the learning experiences that field trips provide. Recently several students from Woodstock High School went on a field trip to the High Museum in Atlanta. Sophomore Brittany Hill says, “I learned how art has evolved over time,” supporting the fact that learning does field trips jm1not have to be classroom-specific. When asked if the field trip was an enjoyable learning experience, Hill responded, “Yes, I found it really fun, and I learned a lot.” Most students who went on this field trip said that they enjoyed it and learned new facts. Sophomore Sam Matthews said, “I learned that art has many different styles, and everyone has a different perspective of art.” The experience of actually being in a museum made learning about art from all periods entertaining and enjoyable for the students. This is how a field trip needs to be run: a place where students will learn new information and be able to take away something valuable from the experience. This example shows that field trips provide educational resources that can be informal and fascinating.

Field trips have been a key part in the education system for years and continue to be popular with both students and teachers. They allow for learning in unique places and can happen at almost any time and at most museums in our area. There is some opposition to field trips; however, they remain a source of learning material. Although field trips face some opponents, field trips will continue to be an important part of the education of children in America.

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