Are field trips beneficial in comparison to more class time?

Abraham Franchetti, Contributing Writer

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Over the past few decades, the narrative of high school has become increasingly more focused. This situation comes with benefits, and most definitely with downsides.

For instance, students are now more disciplined and have lower levels of substance abuse than previous generations. Unfortunately, students are also more stressed than ever, and school has become more focused on test preparation.

Simultaneously, school districts themselves have become more prone to avoid risks. In an era where small controversies are often blown out of proportions by social media, it is no wonder that districts seek to minimize liabilities. Yet these stances deprive students of meaningful experiences. These two policies, an exaggerated focus on test prep and district risk aversion, have had one major casualty: fields trips.

Just recently, the trip to Medieval Times for 6th graders was permanently cancelled. What was once a way for middle schoolers to see a tangible connection between history and themselves is no longer offered The district’s official reason for removing this experience is related to allergies.

“This trip gave me a better understanding of history, and I got to replicate medieval combat (sword duel) with other 10 year olds,” said sophomore Terry McGinty.

The main counterargument to school field trips is that students have to miss class. Students are drowning in APs and Honors classes, as well as extracurriculars. However, the tradeoff of missing class can be used to teach a student responsibility.

This is a situation where a student must make a choice with real implications. Either way, it’s a potential learning experience. If a student chooses to stay in class, they will be more attentive than usual because they sacrificed an experience to be there. And, if they decide to go on the trip, they will inevitably learn. Earlier this year, a few of Schreiber’s top debaters had the opportunity to go on a weekend trip to a tournament at Yale.

“An experience like this couldn’t be found in Port Washington, or even New York. We got to compete with debaters from across the country,” said junior Emily Berman.

There are an infinite number of educational experiences that simply cannot be replicated within the walls of Schreiber. For example, interested students from the band, orchestra, and chorus have the opportunity to travel to and perform at Disney World. Students must make the decision to go and make up their missed work, and miss spring sports. However, it is an opportunity to experience exactly what a musical career can lead to.

“Going to Disney World with the school gives me a unique opportunity to learn and experience music,” said sophomore Jack Lieblein.

Playing in the real world, in an environment usually reserved for professional musicians, just can not be stimulated at home. Another reason to promote field trips is that they build memories and break the routine of school.

If you asked a Schreiber student what they did in any given class a week ago, it’s pretty unlikely that they could instantly remember. However, if you ask a student what they did on a field trip, they could give you their rendition of the whole experience.

All in all, field trips serve many purposes in a learning environment. They counteract some of the detrimental aspects of our societal shifts. They foster responsibility and decision making in students. Academically, field trips help students put their studies into context: an exploration to why students are learning what they are learning.

“I’d love to see more STEP related field trips,” said sophomore Davis Choi.

The fact that Schreiber students can fondly look back at middle and elementary school field trips highlights their value as a memory building tool. Let’s not allow ill-conceived notions of academic priorities, or fear f public relations incidences, dictate and devastate such a useful academic tool.

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