By Devan Frigault,
Remember the good old days back in middle school when you got out of class to go to the museum or the zoo, and how you thought of them as merely a day off from class? But then you always seemed to learn something, one way or another? Field trips can help youth learn in ways other than being taught. Similar to sport and leisure activities, field trips are a way for youth to develop their own subjective views towards a particular subject and can insight curiosity that perhaps a video or picture in class cannot. The best way for youth to learn, and help them develop skills in life is by doing things themselves. Field trips in school are a perfect example of a way for youth to teach themselves (Vascellaro, 2011). Plus while they are learning, they know that they were not taught this information from someone, they did it themselves and can carry a sense of pride with it. Davidson, Passmore, and Anderson (2010) stated that field trips work by “increasing the curiosity and appreciation, developing motivation and interests and forming and refining personal identity.” The trips work for youth to learn for themselves the things that they find interesting and can cause them to look into certain things further on their own time.
Researchers have shown that field trips, if presented in a way that appeals to both the youths interests and correlates with what is being taught in class, increases the likelihood that they will remember what they learned over a longer period of time (Davidson, Passmore, and Anderson, 2010).
I’ve had many experiences in my youth where I didn’t find a class interesting in the slightest. Then our teacher took us on a trip to the museum, or the zoo or a political building and it would spark my interest. The trip brought what we were learning in class to life for me. It showed me that there was actually application for things, and showed me the importance of knowing some of the things we were learning. I also had the opportunity to see the other side of the situation by being the “teacher” during a field trip with the youth at my camps during the summer. We were taking the youth to a military facility to look at weapons, vehicles and gear that the military use while they are overseas. Before we took them myself and the other leaders spent a lot of time trying to get the kids excited for the trip. We explained to them how cool it is to be in one of the tanks or to get to use the weapon simulator, but they were never nearly as excited to go as we were. It wasn’t until we arrived at the facility and let the kids play with everything that they actually clued in to why we were so excited. Being at the facility, and actually getting to see everything we were talking about finally got them interested, and they talked about the trip for the duration of the camp.
The effects of field trips in youth are quite evident. They show that the youth have an increased chance of learning, increases their interest in the subject, all while they are having fun. So why are field trips limited primarily to elementary and middle schools? Would the diverse effects apply to older individuals as well? It would be interesting to see the effects it would have, and perhaps help make of our more boring classes a little more interesting.
References/ Additional Reading
Davidson, S. K., Passmore, C., & Anderson, D. (January 01, 2010). Learning on Zoo Field Trips: The Interaction of the Agendas and Practices of Students, Teachers, and Zoo Educators. Science Education, 94, 1, 122-141.
Vascellaro, S. (2011). Out of the classroom and into the world: Learning from field trips, educating from experience, and unlocking the potential of our students and teachers. New York: The New Press.
Every episode of The Magic School bus