Let us be little again

Chronicle Staff

I felt like a fourth grader last week. Not because I got a Happy Meal at McDonald’s (though that did happen). It’s not because I realized that I still remember half the dialogue of “Bambi” or because I’ve gotten really into Capri Sun drinks (though both are true).

I felt like a fourth grader because, for the first time since elementary school, I went on a field trip and managed to completely forget about the five dozen insignificant things I’d been worrying about all week. 

I went to the Huntington Gardens with my photography class. It was the first field trip I’d gone on since sixth grade, which is upsetting considering the number of amazing trips I could’ve taken these past six years.

Students at the Upper School don’t go on retreats. We have few opportunities to both learn and bond with our classmates outside of the classroom. Field trips accomplish this and give us a chance to relax.

It’s not that Harvard-Westlake offers no field trips at all: the Oceanography and Marine Biology, Geology and APES classes generally go on field trips. The Art History and Painting classes go to the Norton Simon Art Museum, and the photography classes take a few field trips a year. But the average student will enjoy only one or two field trips throughout his or her time here.

We, as the overstressed and overworked students and faculty of Harvard-Westlake, need to take more field trips. We need to feel like fourth graders every once in awhile. I know that teachers, especially teachers of AP courses, have rigorous course schedules that they need to follow. Planning a field trip only gives them additional stress. I know that students have demanding schedules as well, and it’s difficult to miss a few classes or an extracurricular activity in a day and then to make up the work. But we all need a break, and if we can relax and learn something at the same time, all the better.

Visual arts teacher Kevin O’Malley expressed dismay at the pressure on teachers to keep up with the curriculum and its effect on the amount of field trips a class can take.
“We have one of the best history of art courses in the country, but the teachers are under so much pressure to get through the entire curriculum and show every single slide in the collection that they couldn’t possibly take two hours to see [works of art in Los Angeles]. The Florence Duomo could be down where Ralphs is and we still wouldn’t schedule a field trip.”

And really, considering all that Los Angeles has to offer, it’s upsetting that we don’t get to feel like 9-year-olds more often.

Rose can be reached at [email protected]