Learning is intrinsic to every individual and is spontaneous. As the theory of Constructivism emphasizes, we learn as we go along. From a modern day perspective, this implies that if we move from the four walled classrooms into the open world, the rate of adoption of the nuances of a particular subject increases. From the collaborative learning atmosphere that is a resultant of the unique relationships developed outside the classroom, to the deeper retention that occurs when students put into practical use, what they have learnt as theory in the classroom. The real world experience have unmatched learning potential as compared to the classroom teaching. However, it cannot be mutually exclusive but complementing in nature. Field experiences early in a student’s career can be formative and can inspire students to continue in a particular field. This is especially true for subjects like History that can inspire us since one can visit the places where the events had occurred in the past.
The phrase “field trip” brings to mind school bus rides with screaming kids, packed lunches and a tetra pack of mixed fruit juice and museum tours that made it difficult to decipher whether the relic was behind the glass or in front. However, field trips conducted properly especially for senior classes can take a variety of forms that can enhance deep, active learning. With the peer group engagement that is required for these experiences to be fruitful, the student bonding that occurs on field trips is far greater. This enhances the learning experience and also creates a community sense, as students continue onward in a particular discipline. Teachers accompanying the students in such field trips also stand to gain by this opportunity. They get to know their students better and learn how students see the world differently than them. This insight into student perception of things can help the instructor to better communicate with the students and explain the concepts of the course.
It is important to have a good plan for trip rather than a spectacular site to visit. The flip side to careful planning is flexibility. Choose a place that has a reference in the course. Careful planning can make a field trip successful. Students should read about the place and the event before they embark on the trip. Once there, they could be engaged in many ways to explore the place. Each could gather points on some particular aspect for that area. It could be architecture, climate, vegetation, water bodies, food, cultivation, dance, clothes etc. At the end of the day, there could be a informal presentation of facts where each person or group can share their findings. At the culmination of the trip, each group can then submit a report. This would foster creativity and would also help in retaining the facts forever.
The potential benefits for teaching outside the classroom can be enormous. Putting a class into a different physical setting strengthens the bonding amongst class members and creates a learning community. Sometimes just moving out of classrooms and going to the intended destination is an opportunity for students to know each other better, as well as bond better with their instructor.
Well-planned field trips give wings to the classroom learning. It is seen that learning needs a combination of tools and techniques, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. Pedagogical work in the form of workbooks and questions on the place visited can also be used by referring to NCERT solutions for class 12 history that are available online, and which may be used to supplement the classroom learning to provide a more comprehensive experience to the students and to optimize the educational framework.