Counterpoint: Are field trips beneficial in comparison to more class time?

Ashley O'Neill, Contributing Writer

Field trips: an opportunity to enrich a student’s learning experience outside of the classroom, provide students with new experiences, and create new bonds between students and teachers.  Whether it be a museum, a nature adventure, a research competition, or even a Broadway show, there is always something new to try outside of the classroom.  

However, while these experiences may arguably be some of the best lessons, especially for kinesthetic learners who learn by doing, these experiences cannot compromise classroom learning.  Missing a single class, especially at the honors or AP level, can seriously harm weeks worth of understanding.  

Additionally, students already miss enough classes for other excused absences, such as illness.  Classroom learning, especially at the high school level, is cumulative and requires a strong foundation to master difficult concepts.  

“Field trips are bad during class time because you miss out on important curriculum that could be very difficult to make up,” said junior Julia O’Sullivan.  

These trips replace hours of important classroom instruction and also inconvenience teachers that have to cover the material again both in class, and in their scheduled prep time.  It also decreases classroom collaboration, because activities that require partnerships or small groups are difficult to do in class when students are not present.

However, field trips do serve an educational purpose by introducing students to a new learning environment that cannot be simulated in Schreiber.  They also create student memories while also allowing them to put their learning into context.  While field trips do have many benefits, too much time is taken away from other subjects and classes.

In the long run, delaying classroom learning has drastic impacts on test performance, as classes are forced to rush through concepts and gloss over material towards the end of the year in order to compensate for lost time. 

In addition, field trips put students in class at an unfair advantage over students who missed class.  Some teachers even give extra hints or bonuses to students that are present, inadvertently favoring students in the class who did not attend the field trip.  As a result, students get penalized on test day for missing class. 

“I think they’re a waste of time.  There is no reason to devote a whole day’s worth of learning to a single class,” said senior Sam Gil.  

On the other end, many students also find that field trips are unnecessary and are completely unrelated to academia.  This is not to disregard the value of experiential learning, but rather, it is important to recognize that this type of learning does not have to take place during the school day.  Plenty of these activities can be done on the weekend or during any vacation period. 

Students do not necessarily need school involvement to do these activities.  For example, students can go to a museum (sometimes for free) on their own or with their families and friends instead of missing class to travel with the school.  

Another point is that if parents or teachers are needed as chaperones, it makes their schedules more strenuous, as they usually have to work or teach classes during the day.  It is so important for field trips to be adequately equipped with chaperones and medical assistance in the event of an emergency, which is not always realistic given the school’s resources.  The problem is that field trips outside of the school building increase risk and liabilities for the school.  

“In the past there have been several accidents nationwide that have happened on field trips, and these have created preventable issues that schools have had to manage,” said senior Clara LaCorte.  

An accident on a field trip could lead to lawsuits, injury, death, and unnecessary trouble that could just be avoided by keeping students in classrooms.  Safety should always be the number one priority.  

In conclusion, while field trips can be very interesting and incredibly rewarding experiences, these trips are better suited for after school or on weekends.  Classroom learning is just too important.