Some educators believe that critical thinking skills of their pupils are enhanced by taking field trips to businesses and museums. This opinion is often validated by how classmates perform on quizzes and exams taken by those who went on a field trip versus those who were not given permission to go.
This has been demonstrated over the past few decades through studies of pupils and students of public and private schools. Those children and adolescents who were allowed to go on field trips showed greater levels of observational skills, interpretation, association, evaluation, problem solving, and flexible thinking. The same kids appeared to improve their social skills in other areas, too.
I have a fair amount of subjective evidence about field trips, as well. I remember conducting tours as an adult and taking part in tours as a schoolboy. All the memories are positive, fond ones. Sometimes, I take advantage of opportunities to still go on field trips.
Regarding, being the host of many field trip tours, I can only think of positive aspects of interacting with curious participants. I use the word participants, because pupils and students weren’t the only ones who visited the radio station.
I remember answering questions from girl and boy scouts, civic groups, and senior citizen center participants. The looks on their faces told me that not only were they enjoying the tours, they were also learning something new.
The participants who asked meaningful questions gave the impression that they were seriously curious. School teachers often told me afterwards that the children asked far more questions during the field trip than they did in the formal classroom setting. The field trips were win-win situations for the participants and the radio station. The visitors learned a few things, and the business received some valuable public relations enhancement.
I was fortunate to attend classes in the Lincoln, Nebraska Public School system. Each year, we went on at least two or three field trips to some amazing places. A few of them remain vivid memories to this day.
One of the sixth grade tours was a visit to the “Weaver’s” potato chip factory. The guide explained the entire process of making chips. We went from the potato sorting, washing, slicing, and cooking areas all the way to the quality control, packaging and boxing departments. Each kid was also given a small bag of potato chips to eat.
Going to school in the state’s capital city was a big bonus. During my first year in junior high, our history class took a tour of the state capitol building. We had the opportunity to sit in the visitors’ gallery of the Unicameral while it was in session. The floor speaker even brought the senators’ attention to our group. That was a real thrill. Of course we rode the elevators to the top of the tower so we could enjoy the aerial views of Lincoln.
Perhaps the most personally influential field trip was taken by our junior high’s journalism class. That fall, we went on an extensive tour of the Lincoln Journal-Star newspaper plant. If I recall correctly, we spent more than an hour going through all the various departments of the publishing building.
Editors and department supervisors gave short lectures about their specific jobs. The printing plant was the most visually exciting part of the tour. We learned about conventional printing and offset printing processes. The tour was an important factor in solidifying my interest in media work.
Due to the fact that field trips have enhanced my life in many ways, I still go on them. Whenever a business or manufacturing plant advertises a public open house, I do my best to follow up on the invitation. Sometimes, I want to visit an art museum. I turn that occasion into a field trip.
So, yes, I’m an advocate of field trips. Everybody, regardless of age, should take them.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Alexandra K. Trenfor (No, I don’t have any background information about her.) “The best teachers are those who show you where to look but don’t tell you what to see.”