Childhood memories and school life experiences hold a unique charm, and the joy that comes from journeying with friends is unmatched. But how important is the role of field trips in learning?
Field trips are an integral part of school life. The excitement of the bus ride, shared food, games, shouting out song lyrics and finally arriving at the destination add to the learning as much as the academic goal itself. We’ve all been taken to vegetable gardens, museums, planetariums, theme parks, and numerous other places with the purpose of using a different space to learn new things, learn better, and strongly remember what we may not pay attention to or recall if explained in the usual classroom setting.
Field trips connect students to the real world, giving them a practical, working surrounding to relate their theoretical classroom learning with.
Visiting a metal factory to observe how various metals are used to make different objects, going to a museum or laboratory to see preserved artefacts or experiments being conducted, or taking a tour of a dairy farm to understand how milk products are made adds value to existing knowledge.
When a concept is supplemented by application and hands-on experience, it leads to a deeper understanding and answers questions that may have developed about the topic since it was first introduced. New cultural experiences and social bonds are formed. Interaction with experts or professionals from the field is not only inspiring but also makes the simplest piece of information valuable for kids.
While it is possible for kids to be intimidated or wonder if their questions are seen as valid and experts may doubt how much of what they’re saying is being grasped by kids, there is always some takeaway from the interaction.
Our experience with every field trip has been unique and taught us a great deal about the way kids observe and perceive. One of the most important realizations that we’ve gotten is this – what kids learn from a particular trip may be very different from the objective that we, as educators or teachers, have in mind.
For instance, when we took kids attending the Astronomy workshop to a cosmic ray laboratory in Ooty, our focus was purely on ensuring that they understand what is done at the lab and the science behind it. So when we noticed that most kids were attracted towards other stalls that had been set up and chose to visit them instead of the one we wanted them to explore, we assumed that the purpose of the trip was defeated and the kids had not learned much.
But when we asked each one to share their experience, we were amazed to find that they had learned enormously from the stalls that had fascinated them. One of the boys eagerly narrated all that he had learnt about sheep rearing, knowing the perfect technique though he was just introduced to it.
This was an eye-opener because it made us aware that the very thought that someone has failed to learn anything from an experience is incorrect; their goals and interests may differ from ours.
To learn and have fun while doing so is the ultimate goal. If we can give our kids that freedom, their learning curve will grow at a steady pace.
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