Field Trippin'

Not as successfully as I'd have liked, either.  My colleague and I chose to take our English 2 and U.S. History students today to the Holocaust museum.  I had been preparing my English students almost daily for about a week or ten days.  They knew how I wanted them to act by the time they got there.  We first listened to a survivor's story.  It was excellent and the kids were good and a couple of them asked him intelligent questions.  However, after the speaker we were to go on a tour of the museum with audio guides.  I was told if you listened to everything on the audio guide it would take about two hours.  I expected about an hour out of my kids.  Some of the students came out while I was still at one of the first exhibits.  I said you can't possibly be finished.  They said they were.  They had spent all of fifteen minutes in there.  This angered and saddened me.  First of all, because of the selfish manner in which they couldn't be bothered to step outside of themselves for a meager two hours to honor the people who suffered and died in the Holocaust.  And secondly, simply, because we were there to learn.  I advised many of the students who came out early that they may want to pick up the headsets and try again.  Several did.  Some did not.  We ended our journey about two hours earlier than expected.  I told them that if they didn't want to spend time there then we certainly weren't going to take extra time to walk around.  Some students had asked if we could spend time at the grassy knoll and stuff like that.  I was open to those ideas before my high expectations of my students had me reconsider and we took the earlier train back and went to 8th period instead of being gone for the entire day.

Lastly, it ruined my trip to the Holocaust museum.  The anger and disappointment I had (have) for my students tainted MY learning experience.  It saddens me that they couldn't just let go for a minute and not be the "cool kids" that they are and just let the moment be a teaching one.  

Next time, if I decide to do this again, I will know to put a specific time frame on how long I expect them to listen and be inside the museum interacting with the exhibits. 



I often find it difficult to get my students to have discussion.  Believe me, I've tried to lead them in that direction, but it comes down to whether or not they're genuinely interested in the book/story/subject, whatever.  BUT last week to prep for reading "The Pit and the Pendulum" we discussed torture.  We discussed torture throughout different time periods and whether or not we are actually the civilized nation we say we are these day.  We drew on the examples of places like Guantanamo.  It was excellent.  We spent a good half an hour just discussing torture and what the phrase "cruel and unusual punishment" means.  I had meant to begin reading that day, but the discussion kept going and since that was such a rare occurrence that I didn't want to make it end.  It was great.