Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Forcing Field Trips

I am a huge advocate for field trips.  I think we have been on five just this last week (including virtual trips and nature walks).  We have a couple of more field trips coming up over the next two weeks and have even more virtual trips and nature walks planned.  Yet, within this I have a query. 

Field trips are an extension of learning.  They are enrichment.  An alternative route for children to acquire knowledge.  I believe that field trips are a crucial piece to the learning process, and every child should be afforded the opportunity the participate.  

Let's take money out of the equation for a moment.  If field trips are all of these things, and more, can we require children to participate in them?  If we have a trip planned to go to the ballet and a child does not desire to go, can we demand that they go because it is part of the curriculum?  If we have a trip planned to go to a ball game can we threaten a child with a mountain of paperwork if they choose not to go?  

There's a part of me that says they should have the choice.  If they choose not to participate in a shared experience wouldn't it be a consequence of that decision to be unable to fully participate in any learning experiences that follow?  The other part of me says it is our responsibility to convince the children how unfortunate it is for them if they choose not to participate in a field trip until they relent and go.  We need to do a better job engaging them in the content so that they want to go.  Should we force children to attend field trips?