Thinking back to my own primary school experience, school field trips were a rarity and at the time I seen them as a free day, in many ways completely unlinked from learning and school. At the time 9 year old me thought this was great however, thinking back now with my teacher hat on, I can see the problem with this thinking. If all children believe that school trips are not linked to the learning taking place within the classroom, are they even learning anything at all? However, after discussing the benefits of field trips in the teaching of social subjects during lectures and workshops and by even going on one myself to Verdant Works in Dundee, I have began to realise the sheer importance of these practical experiences on the learning of social studies within the primary curriculum. In addition to this, I feel it is essential to emphasise the importance of the link between the field trip and the learning within the classroom. If this link is not meaningful and relevant, the field trip may not reach its full learning potential.
Through my own experience of the university field trip to Verdant Works, which is an old jute mill which has been converted into a museum which exhibits information on how the jute mills were ran, the machinery involved, the transportation of jute and even the social history of the time within Dundee, I feel as though I had the opportunity to look at the learning opportunities through the eyes of both a learner and teacher. Due to the fact I had not visited this attraction for many years, I found much of it had been renovated which meant in addition to the information that I could remember there were also many new learning opportunities for me to expand my own knowledge. Through gaining this knowledge I was also able to begin thinking about how I can include aspects into my teaching. The rich environment allowed me to ask questions about what could be used within a classroom and what links could be made in order to make the learning as meaningful and relevant as possible. A place like this can be used in a multiple of ways and can also be a good starting point for a variety of activities. While I was walking around the grounds of Verdant Works I began to think about what topics or activities I could devise linking to the available resources. One idea I explored was the possibility of a scavenger hunt where the children have to search throughout the museum for the answers to the clues they have on a worksheet. I feel as though this sort of activity can be particularly beneficial because it allows the children to independently investigate and find out information as well as giving them a goal to aim for which could be a form of motivation.
I personally feel that field trips are a great form of learning as getting out of the classroom can be an effective way to getting children motivated and engaged with the learning. It also provides a real life context in which children can gain and improve on a variety of skills such as analysing, investigating and exploring (Catling and Willy, 2009). I particularly feel as though Verdant Works is a great resource to take classes to due to its Dundee location and history which makes it local for the children and therefore, makes it more relevant and relateable to them which is suggested by Turner-Bisset (2005) as an important factor in fieldtrips.
In addition to this, the Verdant Works website also provides a large variety of different workshops which can be used within the classroom which link to the Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and Outcomes which can be found at http://www.verdantworks.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Verdant-School-Nursery-Guide-copy_Layout-1.pdf I believe this could be a very beneficial resource for teachers wanting to extend the learning of the field trip.
Catling, S. and Willy, T. (2009) Teaching Primary Geography. London: Sage Publications.
Turner-Bissett, R. (2005) Creative Teaching: History in the Primary Classroom. London: Routledge.