Field Trips to the Museum

In some ways, I am extremely upset with how far digital technologies has come in recent years. In some ways I feel like the “Human Touch” has gone away and that we rely too much on technologies to give us the satisfaction of some things that we know are irreplaceable. For me personally, maybe because I have a History Major and enjoy the arts and the “finer things in life”(is it really though? Can’t anyone enjoy it?), I think being in a space where past, present and future collide is such an exciting thought. What saddens me is that everything is now virtually available. You can literally take our classroom around the work in 90 minutes and pay peanuts to get them a first class seat to any exhibition. Cost Affective? Yes. Worth it? Debatable. Are you allowing your students to be exposed to a new place – let’s face it, not many parents are prone to taking their children to a museum on the weekend. For many students this might be only time they get to visit such an open space. Of budgets don’t have money to take every student in the school to a museum every month, but if we stop spending money on pizza parties for students reading 50 books, don’t you think something a little more educational might be the prize? Food for thought – literally.

Museums have always been given a bad rep. They’re boring, they’re filled with “old stuff”, there’s too much walking, there’s nothing “cool” are all excuses of students are uninformed, disengaged and haven’t had a chance to appreciate the fieldtrip entirely. There isn’t much a teacher can do to get everyone on board with such a fieldtrip, but there are things we can do to give students a chance to physically explore the space for themselves. I enjoyed the creativity behind the article ‘8 Ways to Liven Up the Museum’ and I think that there should be sort of fun way to engage your students throughout the entirety of the Fieldtrip experience. Why make students board with information they might not particularly care about and let them do their own exploring within the museum and have them report back to the class with a project where they are the curator and are taking the class on a tour of the art piece. We know students love their technology and lets’ face it, most of them will have their electronic devices out for the duration of the trip, why not allow them to use their devices to take a “selfie” with a famous art piece or some cool exhibit? Why not let them find out more information about something that interreges them as they move around? I also liked the idea of doing a scavenger hunt while at the museum. Instead of giving your class a boring worksheet similar to the(rather uhm interesting?) one that we got at the Museum, why not give students something fun the day before so they know what they are looking for and get familiar with what they will see when they arrive. When it comes to doing worksheets with your class, I would strongly suggest staying away from it. I find that student’s get too focused on the worksheets to actually enjoy the experience around them. Maybe allow them to have a have walk through of the museum or the space first so that they can see what they enjoy and maybe find things for themselves. If some students finish ahead of time allow those student to go back in the exhibition with the worksheet to find the answer. Sometimes it might even be better to have a very basic worksheet so that students can share what they learned with you instead of having them learn only what is on the page. This could be done one a simple sheet that they have to complete by participating in a scavenger hunt so they can “crack a code” to the topic of the reflection they are going to write about following the fieldtrip. Again, I would suggest that you allow the students to have their own time first and then to give the worksheet to students. I think one of the biggest problems is that we give students the opportunity to maybe see these things, but we never tell them what to do with this information – what was the point of taking this trip. Whether it be for Social Studies, English or even Science there is value in giving students a chance to explore a physical setting – what matters the most, is having students interpret their findings and showing them how to incorporate it into our learning’s. I think that even at the middle years level students need a guide to make the connections between the past, the present and future. When students are given clear directions and instructions they have more time to appreciate the work around them and to make their own bridges with the message in the fieldtrip.

Asides from the obvious problem of having students who don’t listen and having to pay an arm and a leg for the fieldtrip, I don’t see what reasons teachers can make for not bringing their students to on any fieldtrip. I noticed that even us as adults visiting the museum, we tend to get loud and somewhat distracted – it’s obvious that students will have it worst than that. Is there a proper way to gage the issue? I don’t know, but I don’t agree with the idea of not taking students on a fieldtrip to avoid management issues. We learn through exploring, we explore with our senses.

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