Colleagues, students, and I have been studying the effects of culturally enriching field trips on students. We’ve published research on field trips to see live theater (so far here) and to visit an art museum ( so far here, here, and here) and generally lamented that these kinds of enriching trips are in decline (see here and here). They are either being replaced with “reward” field trips to places like amusement parks and bowling alleys or disappearing altogether. Enriching trips not only have the potential of conveying important content knowledge, but also help convey our values and priorities to future generations.
Yesterday, the Minneapolis Star Tribune carried a piece about a small private school, the Gaia Democratic School, which took its students on a field trip to the Smitten Kitten, a local store featuring sex toys and erotica, as part of their sex education class.
This seems like a culturally enriching field trip to me. It has potentially useful content knowledge and it is conveying to those children the values and priorities of the parents and educators at that school. The article does quote one parent who withdrew his children from the school after his two daughters, ages 11 and 13, went on the field trip. But my guess is that most parents at the Gaia Democratic School know and support exactly what their school stands for. The Star-Tribune says, “Gaia is a K-12 school with a motto promising academic freedom, youth empowerment and democratic education. Parents say the school has about 25 students, including several described by administrators as transgender.”
That’s the beauty of school choice. If this school doesn’t teach their values, parents can go somewhere else. But for those families who want something like Gaia Democratic School, why should they be forced to attend a school that drags their kids to Chuck E. Cheese on field trips?
I wonder if Gaia has thought about having an RCT evaluation of their filed trips, although that would be hard with only
25 23 students.