Field trips are worth itBy madrilena de la cerna
Cebu Daily News
The tragic field trip of the Cebu International School last September 12 drew a loud clamor for canceling field trips in schools. In my 43 years of teaching experience before I retired, going on field trips was among my activities usually held towards the end of the semester or the school year. Field trips are full of fun and learning if well planned, properly conducted, and evaluated in various ways. I always enjoyed field trips since my elementary years in St. Catherine’s School, Carcar, Cebu. Field trips then were called excursions and it was not just a class but the whole school went on excursion. I can still recall my first field trip when I was in Grade Three. It was very near the school. It was in Tuyom, part of barangay Valladolid. It was a kind of picnic but we enjoyed being outside the school. Grade Four was more exciting because we went to Matutinao Spring which is the basin of the Kawasan Falls in Badian town. Kawasan Falls then was not developed. We enjoyed swimming in the clear, cool but shallow waters of the Matutinao Spring. From the spring we then went to the sea. In Grade Five, our excursion brought us to Sayaw Beach in Barili. I remember how the nuns (there was only one per grade) and the teachers were on guard during the trips. They always reminded us not to shout in the spring. In these trips, we learned to share our baon and snacks with classmates. We also learned to take care of each other, reminding each other not to go far from the crowd. From Grade Six to High School, we did not go on excursion anymore. But when we were in Fourth Year High School, there was a contest for the sale of tickets for the missions and the prize was an outing. Our class won and was excited about where we would go. Then it was announced in class that there woule be no outing but we would be treated in the school gym. We revolted declaring that it was no longer an outing but an “inting”. The administration gave in and we went to Sibonga (by the barracks) for a half day.
When I took up Education in St. Theresa’s College in the mid 1960s (all my 12 Education subjects were taken under Dr. Lourdes Quisumbing), one of the most memorable subjects was Methods of Teaching wherein Conducting Field Trips was one of them. I will never forget how Dr. Quisumbing emphasized good planning and organization when conducting field trips. This includes knowing very well the place you’re going to, the contacts in that place preferably those in charge, proper communication between you and these people, proper information and dissemination in the school – the administration, the class, the parents, contact a reliable transportation and make proper agreements regarding payment, schedule and itinerary. Explain to the class the objective of the trip, what to expect and what to do when coming back to class. Prepare guide questions, provide the itinerary and follow that itinerary strictly unless a change is needed but always explain directly to the class, not through a messenger. My practice in conducting a field trip then was going to Sudlon Agricultural School because I taught catechism in the school every week and at that time the bridge going to Sudlon was under major repair so we had to cross the bridge on foot. After the trip, Dr. Quisumbing always gave us positive criticism in the evaluation.
Conducting field trips in high school is different from college. I organized many field trips when teaching in UP Cebu both high school and college. In UP High it was more about bringing my classes to classical or historical movies in downtown theaters (we always stayed in the balcony with proper arrangement from the management) and attending debates, fora or symposia in other schools. I organized them into groups to facilitate riding in the jeepney, buying the tickets and seating arrangement in the theater or auditorium, always warning them not to go to the restroom alone. In UP College, freshmen taking Philippine History were brought to a heritage tour in the south (reaching as far as Oslob town in four to five buses). For my main activity in STS (Science, Technology, and Society) , my three to four classes of graduating students went on an overnight trip in the southern towns (from Carcar to Oslob) for cultural mapping with faculty chaperones. Of course, this was in coordination with local government officials who provided accommodation and transportation with barangay guides. As usual, it was part of the syllabus. I informed the administration and I wrote the parents (with return slips of the letter) regarding the activity and I assured them of their children’s safety. I also briefed the faculty chaperones about the activity. I am very thankful that in all these outdoor activities, nothing untoward ever happened.
We should not deprive students of the opportunities to explore the communities around them. Field trips can make them better persons, more aware and respectful of their environment and neighboring communities, and they learn to be independent, they learn team work, they learn to share resources, and they learn to take care of themselves and others. Most of all, the school does not have to go to a far place. There is so much to explore in Cebu.