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Field trips...the good, the bad and the ugly

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My Views by Thomas J. Barr, Publisher

  Field trips in the schools…what is their value?

A committee is looking at the topic for the Bullitt County Public School System.

It’s kind of an interesting topic on both sides of the table.

Some say that field trips are valuable. Others might say they are a waste of time. And others may say that if done properly, they can be valuable.

From my standpoint, and it has been many, many years ago, field trips were often used as a reward for good grades or good attendance.

Others were taken to visit colleges or cultural exhibits.

Today, with every second of the educational day supposedly so valuable, field trips fall under close scrutiny.

From my daughter’s standpoint, field trips are important. Her class will only go on one this year and that doesn’t make her happy.

In a recent work session, board member Lorraine McLaughlin voiced concerns over a field trip she learned about. Board chairman Tim Wiseheart echoed that sentiment.

Superintendent Keith Davis said every trip is to have some educational value and must meet the core standards being taught.

But board member Darrell Coleman said some of the trips are meant to be incentives.

Assistant superintendent for student learning Greg Schultz said his office sees the requests and he would have no problem eliminating field trips all together. However, he said that would be the board decision.

Some trips may be for incentive while others may be for enrichment.

Board member Dolores Ashby said for some children, field trips might be their only opportunity to see things outside the county.

Board member Roger Hayes said there are certainly a lot of cultural things that can be seen and the school system may have an opportunity to expose youngsters to things such as plays and exhibits.

But McLaughlin said there might be some farms closer to Bullitt County students can visit than to take them to a place like Huber’s in southern Indiana.

At the end of the discussion, there was no consensus. That’s the work of the committee.

I’m not so sure that with the push to educational excellence throughout Kentucky that we might be missing a bit piece of the puzzle.

No youngster is going to want to be taught every second of every day. There was a wave for some time that assemblies were bad things during the class day.

Well, if I’m attending a high school and a big football game is coming up on Friday night, what better than taking 30 minutes at the end of the day to get the players, cheerleaders and student body jacked up?

Life is full of pressure. Consider those in the workplace how much more stressful things are today than a few years ago.

I don’t condone taking field trips to a pizza place and try to make it educational in value. I do understand taking kids who make the honor roll or have perfect attendance to have some pizza. That would be an incentive.

All kids want to eat pizza. Maybe that might push them to make the honor roll or to be at school every day.

Some of my best memories of my son’s time in the school system were his participation in the I Leap program. I got to travel on a bus to places I had not been – it was a great time.

I don’t know if the kids learned anything on trips to places like Chicago or Atlanta but I did. And I think they enjoyed it. And they are memories they will keep forever.

I remember those trips back in high school when the good students got to go to the movies. I didn’t go out to movies at all as a kid.

While believing I have a pretty good sense of humor, I still remember the day I was with classmates watching a James Bond movie and seeing one of 007’s test model gadgets melt a mannequin’s head. For some reason, I blurted out, “Fry Brain.” It seemed like the entire theatre started laughing. That was the start and the end of my comic career.

Thirty-plus years later and the memory lives inside.

Sometimes we just need to let kids be kids. A class missing a day of school for a field trip isn’t the end of the world. And it might be something they remember the rest of their lives.

Have fun committee members. You have a tough job on this one.

If you have any comments, e-mail me at editor@pioneernews.net.