Thursday, November 06, 2008

A Potentially Cranky Post

I understand the point of field trips, I really do. Show kids the momentous, the important, the laudable, the fantastical events which have transpired in history. Call attention to the triumphs and give children a sense of what they too might accomplish when they are adults.

That's the theory, anyway. The reality is that field trips become a break from the daily routine and/or monotony of the school day, meaning they quickly become social outings at the expense of everything else. Without guidance or the presence of a tour guide, field trips quickly degenerate into everything they're not supposed to be. Children are severely bored, totally unwilling to take the outing seriously, and don't make much of an effort to seriously contemplate the exhibits. Instead of measured reverence and a gradual sense of pacing they instead rush through scene after scene, barely focusing on anything other than their friends, and in turn completely missing the point of everything.

This is my second museum trip whose impact has been muted, if not ruined altogether by bratty children. And I'm not necessarily down on the kids themselves. I'm more frustrated with the adults in charge who have never taught these kids why they should care and care deeply about what it is they should have been viewing. I too remember being that age and feeling freed from the constrains of a 8 to 3 school day, but I also was a studious, serious child who had a good time at museums and historical sites because I got the point.

It doesn't have to be this way. I'm not sure whether to call for more discipline or studiousness in the part of teachers and administrators, but in any case, something needs to change.


Utah Savage said...

Parents need to instill that respect for learning. Parents need to talk to their children as if they were people and expected to behave.

So say I.

John J. said...

Did you happen to yell at any of them to get off your lawn? ;)

PENolan said...

I have to agree that respect and manners begin at home.

Thank heavens my students are only three years old so we don't have to go on field trips - except to the farmers' market down the block. Even then, however, we go over behavioral expectations with the kids before we go out. And the consequences for unsafe and/or disrespectful behavior? No graham crackers and apple cider for you! Stale low sodium saltines and water.
Trust me - it's effective. Kids understand very quickly that I will never let them be hungry, but I won't fork over the good stuff to anyone who is rude. More importantly, though, I talk with the parents about the importance of setting limits. Lots of times the parents are either (1) worse than the kids or (2) scared of upsetting their children.

I should be this assertive with the grown ups in my personal life.

Hope you are doing well at NIMH.