The fading of field trips


Kira McAulliffe

As the years go on, the number of field trips being organized by public schools has decreased significantly, changing the way children are learning in classrooms.

Kira McAuliffe, Student Life Editor

Waking up in the morning as a little kid, getting ready for school and knowing that you were about to get on a school bus and go on a field trip was the best feeling ever. Kids in elementary school now don’t get to experience that feeling as much as we did ten years ago.

In recent years, the number of field trips taken by PV elementary schools has decreased, mirroring a nationwide trend.

One reason for this change is that schools find in-class learning more important than cultural enrichment. Instead of taking a class to a museum or environment center to learn, schools would rather have the students learn about historical or scientific topics in class. 

A recent study conducted by The Education Next, states, the Field Museum in Chicago welcomed more than 300,000 students every year at one time. Recently, the number has been below 200,000. Between 2002 and 2007, Cincinnati arts organizations saw a 30 percent decrease in student attendance. A survey by the American Association of School Administrators found that more than half of schools eliminated planned field trips in 2010–11.” As a result, the rate is at an all time low this year.

Another factor contributing to the decline of school field trips is money and time. Schools deem it more important that kids spend their time in a classroom learning the subject and reading about it rather than actually experiencing it. While not going on field trips, the school is saving money and able to put it towards other learning tools. Teachers would rather have the kids in class, studying for a test or learning a new unit to help them understand the material better.

In the PV district, most elementary schools do two main field trips. In fourth grade, students go to BizTown and learn about the real-world economy, and in sixth grade students, go on a campout to learn about nature and celebrate finishing elementary school. The kids get excited to go on these trips and look forward to that grade because of it. 

In a conversation with a second and fifth grader, they were asked if they were excited for any upcoming field trips this year. They said they didn’t know of any field trips they were going on so they didn’t have anything to look forward to. There is no longer anything exciting to look forward to during the school year to keep the kids motivated. 

Field trips used to be a great learning experience for children and gave them something to look forward to. Now field trips are used for a reward instead of a learning target. Teachers would rather take students on a field trip to reward them for the progress they are making than to take them somewhere as a learning target. This shows how field trips and the purpose of field trips have changed over the last decade. They happen so rarely now because of this change in the learning target for these experiences.