Should Field Trips Be For Everyone?

Student+percentages+who+believe+trips+have+helped+increase+their+knowledge

Source: Rahman, T., Spafford, H.

Student percentages who believe trips have helped increase their knowledge

Should field trips be for everyone? The question has been around for years, should everyone be allowed to participate in field trips or should these be strictly allowed to a select few? Incentive-based trips are the new trend. We all remember the exciting feeling of getting ready for a school field trip: picking out your lunch, wearing your coolest outfit, grouping up with your closest friends, watching the city pass through the bus windows, it was all so exhilarating for a little kid, and then we grew up. Now, things are much more complicated. Now, field trips are closed off. Now, we have to work harder in order to recreate these experiences; and just like that, as graduation rapidly approaches, we may never be able to experience that elated feeling again. Field trips should be for everyone, not just a certain group of kids. Field trips should not be incentive-based, kids need these experiences to grow their love for school and for learning, not to make them feel bad because they aren’t “good enough” to enjoy field trips.

Field trips offer students the opportunity to learn about a subject in a more hands-on and immersive way than they can in the classroom.”

— Imed Bouchrika

Firstly, many believe field trips should be based on academic performance and grades, however, did you ever stop to think that the kids who struggle in school might need these trips even more than kids who already perform successfully in the classroom? As Imed Bouchrika states, field trips “offer students the opportunity to learn about a subject in a more hands-on and immersive way than they can in the classroom.(Bouchrika, 2022) In other words, trips like these give students the chance to get more involved with what they are learning about and give them that excitement that comes with learning new things about the world around them. We also get this same idea from the article, “How Field Trips Boost Students’ Lifelong Success”, where it is stated, “Today’s students are visual learners, and a field trip lets them touch, feel and listen to what they’re learning about, which helps them build on classroom instruction, gain a better understanding of topics, build cultural understanding and tolerance, and expose them to worlds outside their own.” Here we get an even better understanding of how impactful field trips may be for students who may need that extra push to realize how great learning can be, which is exactly why field trips shouldn’t be taken away from those students. Students who struggle in the classroom are the ones who should participate in trips because it gives them the opportunity to make those happy connections when they think of school and learning. 

The study found that regardless of gender, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, children who take school trips have better grades (59%), higher graduation rates from high school (95%) and college (63%) and greater income (12% higher annually).”

— NEA member benefits

Field trips are not only beneficial because of the memories made, but they also are seen to show many more benefits when looked at with statistics. According to the article “How Field Trips Boost Students’ Lifelong Success,” “The study found that regardless of gender, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, children who take school trips have better grades (59%), higher graduation rates from high school (95%) and college (63%) and greater income (12% higher annually).” Here we see that no matter a student’s background, field trips can enhance learning and help students get more involved in school. Many students intrinsically recognize the intellectual benefits of field trips, In 2009, a student survey showed that 53.78% of students strongly agree that field trips have helped to increase their knowledge base (Rahman & Spafford, 2009). A 2015 study echoes this, proving that science-oriented field trips can improve the scores of middle school students in scientific tests and increase their overall proficiency in the subject matter.” (Whitesell, 2015) (Bouchrika, 2022). In the same study, students who showed the biggest growth in school due to field trips are poor students and those of “ethnic minorities.” Here we see how important these trips are, especially to minorities and lower-class students who aren’t able to have these experiences at home or with their families. School trips open up doors for students who may want to see the world but don’t have the funds to do so. 

At our school, Marine Leadership Academy, field trip standards vary based on grade, and not every grade has the same standards in order to attend field trips. For example, in an article by Emiliano Bahena, a current MLA senior, when it comes to the middle school grades, 7th and 8th, there are no standards, and every student is allowed to participate. This completely differs from the 10th graders, who must have no F’s in progress reports, no more than 2 behavior right-ups, and no more than 6 tardies. The seniors must have good grades (no D’s or F’s) and not lower than a 4 on KYNs, and juniors haven’t even been able to have their first classwide field trip (Bahena, 2023). As we see, each grade differs, and that causes problems when it comes to students who need experiences like these to make those great middle and high school memories. It’s not that I don’t recognize the drawbacks of field trips Bouchrika notes,  “they can be expensive and logistically challenging to organize, and there is always the risk that something will go wrong,(Bouchrika, 2022) as well as being hard to coordinate and execute smoothly. Indeed, many teachers may ask themselves, why put in the work when many kids don’t want to go? Maybe those teachers don’t notice exactly how many students really want to participate, they just don’t qualify or meet the standards to do so. 

In conclusion, why don’t we, at least once, give students the chance to participate in field trips without having to meet certain criteria? From there we can make the ultimate decision to continue this way or go back to how it was before. Who knows, maybe the outcome will surprise you.