No trips until after testing?

That is what I was told by a teacher earlier this year when I offered to book some trips for her. No field trips until after testing. For those of you who grew up thinking field trips were just for fun, they’re not, though they may be fun incidentally. Field trips are one of the most meaningful forms of learning when properly embedded in curriculum. They are the bridge between school and the world, between concept and reality, plus kids  love them and remember them for decades after the fact. If this is what testing is doing to teachers, then it needs to stop.

What is more important- a test score, or meaningful learning? With the pressure put on teachers and the inclusion of test scores in teacher ratings, it is getting harder and harder for teachers to prioritize real learning over test prep.  As always, the burden falls unfairly on low-income schools. Since income is tied to test scores, guess which kids aren’t going on trips this year?

Focusing all of our energy on reading, writing and ‘rithmetic does not appeal to diverse learning styles, it does not engage or empower children to be agents of change, nor does it actually prepare kids to do much other than solve word problems and read convoluted non-fiction passages.

Please take your kids on trips. And not just for fun when testing is over. Take them on trips because that is how we learn, by doing and experiencing and exploring the real world around us.