A trend in U.S. schools in the last few decades has been to reduce the number of field trips outside of school. Whether because this brief “truancy” from school prevents educators from attaining their stringent in-class goals or because such trips are treated as rewards for good behavior (in which case, the trip is more likely to be escapist than educational), the original purpose of field trips seems to have been largely obscured.
Fortunately, The New Century School has not forgotten that culturally enriching field trips broaden students’ minds and horizons—similar to how reading books does, except that this experience is first hand. A recent study from the University of Arkansas demonstrated that students learn quite a lot on field trips: “In particular, enriching field trips contribute to the development of students into civilized young men and women who possess more knowledge about art, have stronger critical-thinking skills, exhibit increased historical empathy, display higher levels of tolerance, and have a greater taste for consuming art and culture.”
Last week, all three Kindergarten/First-Grade classes traveled to Milburn Orchards in Elkton, MD to learn about apple harvesting. Milburn Orchards was an appropriate destination for TNCS students for many reasons: they have been family owned and operated since 1902, they are committed to sustainable and environmentally friendly farming practices, and they offer local produce—something that TNCS’s Garden Tuck Shop values highly. Although the kids enjoyed the interactive activities and being outdoors on a gorgeous fall day, the trip was bursting with educational opportunities, from history to agriculture to engineering, so they learned bushels while having fun!
So load up the old yellow school bus kids, field trips at TNCS are here to stay!