By Roxanne Lategan, PGCE student specialising in didactic for Tourism
A field trip is visiting a place outside of the classroom with the intention of achieving learning objectives. As a teacher, you firstly need to ensure that the field trip facilitates learning. Secondly, ensure that it will be a fun experience in order to foster positive attitudes within the learners. It should also allow for social interaction between learners and create an awareness of the surrounding environment.
The purpose of a field trip is to enhance the curriculum and offer a first-hand experience to learners’ which makes learning more meaningful and memorable. The field trip will establish the significance of what is being learnt in the classroom.
Steps involved in planning a field trip:
Select a place and start planning your field trip. Establish if a pre-visit is necessary to familiarise yourself with the surroundings. Some places offer school programmes and have guides for school learners (2 Oceans Aquarium & Eskom have school programmes).
Arrange transport and begin planning a schedule for the day. Collect monies from learners and ensure that you have received indemnity from ALL parents. Inform parents about what the trip entails and get their numbers in case of emergencies.
On the day of the field trip, prepare your learners by going over the schedule for the day and inform them as to how the field trip fits in with the curriculum. Offer them a worksheet that will encourage them to observe their surroundings and ask questions.
Post-field trip, have a discussion with your learners to evaluate the trip. Ask them to write a report based on their observations or experiences. This will also allow you to determine whether this field trip can take place again in the following years to come.
The CAPS document for Grade 10 requires that learners cover ‘In-room technology from accommodation establishments’ in Term 1. A suitable field trip for this chapter would be a hotel visit whereby learners could observe a hotel room and list the various features that they find in the room. These features can be listed under comfort features, entertainment features, safety features, work features and environmentally responsible features.
Term 3 covers ‘South African Fauna and Flora’, ‘SANParks’ and ‘Sustainable & Responsible Tourism’. Cape Town is fitting for such a field trip as the city is so rich in its diversity of Fauna and Flora. This trip could entail a bus drive around the city to spot man-made and natural features. Learners could visit Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Silvermine hiking trails and picnic area or Blue Flag Beaches around the peninsula. It is important not to underestimate the power and effectiveness of your field trip. Although learners might visit hiking trails or beaches often, they are now returning with a mindset. They are coming to learn and observe.
Encourage your learners to look at signage, reflect on the use of signage, take pictures and explore the area. Furthermore, they can also look at the availability of additional facilities (public toilets, wheelchair ramps, etc), the condition of the facilities and how man has affected the environment.
Limitations to field trips:
In the classroom environment, the teacher has the authority and can maintain structure. However, this disappears on a field trip despite the teachers’ effort and the field trip might result in little to no educational impact.
Discipline becomes an issue too as some learners behave badly or sit on their phones throughout the duration of the field trip or they might wander off from the group and get lost.
Time constraints might discourage teachers from planning field trips as there is not enough time to accommodate a field trip in the school time-table. A lack of monetary support from the school or learners that cannot afford the trip puts a damper on the thought of field trips as well. Medical risks and the issue of safety is a concern to teachers and parents as learners could get injured during the trip or experience motion sickness on the bus. It is of utmost importance that the teacher carries a compact first aid kit when on a field trip.
Despite limitations, field trips create great excitement along learners and the bus drive is often a social playground. Learners get to experience things in a new unstructured way. Their learning could become interest-driven instead of curriculum-driven.
It stimulates their other senses such as seeing, hearing, touching and smelling. They get to see, explore and have a first-hand experience which makes learning more holistic.