The special needs students of Cordova Elementary have been deprived of an educational opportunity to attend the Hamlet Agricultural fair this week. Every year for the last 10 years, the Hamlet Lions Club has graciously invited these students to attend the fair during part of the school day. The students usually arrive by 9:30 a.m. and are back at school in time for lunch by 11:15 a.m. While at the fair, the students are given a chance to view the livestock, view the exhibits, and ride some of the rides. This is all done at no cost to the students or their families. This year the staff at Cordova was informed that they could not take the students to the fair because it was not an educational field trip but a fun field trip! Since when are education and fun mutually exclusive?
A big emphasis this year in Richmond County schools is vocabulary. Attending the fair would give the youngest students a real-life example of some new vocabulary words, for example, the names of some of the animals. A high-frequency word such as ‘ride’ would give a concrete example of another meaning of the word ‘ride.’ The teachers could take pictures of the students on the rides, then create a classroom experience book using the high frequency vocabulary words. Even some real-life math problems could be incorporated into a trip to the fair. (ex., if the scrambler has 10 cars that hold two people each, how many people can ride the scrambler at one time?) To say a field trip to the fair is not educational is ludicrous.
The children look forward to attending the fair every year and several have been asking the teachers about this year’s fair. How are the teachers supposed to explain to these children that they will not be going this year because it’s too much fun? These teachers do not put in for many field trip requests, especially ones that are out of town due to the price of gas; when a field trip is local and free, it is only fair to allow these children the opportunity to go!
James F. Hooks III