Substantive Education

March 6, 2010

Field Trips

I can’t really emphasize enough what a critical role field trips have played in my sons education. I know sometimes it can seem that the effort outweighs the benefits. Field trips take time away from your regular schoolwork, they add an additional cost, and they often feel inconvenient as we struggle to fit all we need to do into our week. Believe me, I get all of that. However, I believe the benefits far outweigh the ‘costs’.

You are all familiar with the ‘law of the farm’. It’s a concept that is very important in education. Basically, the idea is that, as a farmer you can’t wait until it’s time to harvest to plant your crop. You need to consistently be doing the daily chores if you hope to have a bountiful harvest at the end.

Field trips are like that. Each individual one is not going to be a life changing experience, however, 12 years of getting out of the house and into museums, nature centers, parks, symphonies, plays and all the rest add up to an enrichment of your child’s life that cannot be gained in any other way.

As my kids are coming to the end of their homeschooling days I can more clearly see the benefit of all the time, energy and money we spent going on various day trips. One of my sons, in his college entrance exam, used examples of all the places he had been on field trips to demonstrate how, as a homeschooler, he had received a rich education. It was interesting to me, the trips that he highlighted. I’d had no idea they had made an impact.

Sure, the boys probably giggled at the naked statues at the art museum, chatted with their friends while a docent was talking, or mindlessly played with the science exhibits without reading the information. However, they also, with continued, regular exposure, came to appreciate fine art, love poetry, respect nature, and comprehend the scope of history. I feel sure that it was the routine exposure to the world beyond our door, that has contributed to their thoughtful, seeking attitudes as adults.

A natural outgrowth of their homeschool days has been the choices they have made since leaving home. Decisions to study abroad, try new things, meet new people…it’s all part of the whole. Education is so much more than books and paper. Our children, to become life long learners, must be interested in what is beyond them, they must know that they don’t know, be intrigued by new ideas, new places, new people.

Field trips, even the simple trip to the library, plays an integral part in expanding our children’s horizons, their enjoyment of life and their ability to take delight in the familiar, as well as the exotic. I’m personally thrilled to see that my boys, now men, still enjoy a walk through the hills, a trip to pick apples, or listening to a book being read aloud. As a mom, there is comfort in knowing that as they finished high school they didn’t just have a solid academic foundation, but also the skills to enjoy living.



  1. Love that line…”they must know that they do not know”

    Comment by Ellen — March 7, 2010 @ 4:32 pm | Reply

  2. I agree, a field trip is so important for education. Being able to learn and get something out of any experience is the foundation for lifelong curiousity and happiness.

    Comment by Ashley — March 18, 2010 @ 5:14 am | Reply

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