This article is for teachers, school administrators and principals, and parents of school-aged children.
I want to begin with a confession. Prior to this year, I have often felt defeated by the process of giving historical walking tours to students in the field trip setting. You have to understand, at Bow Tie Tours we want our tours to be exceptional, and we want to actually bring people as close to the history of early America as we can. It is time travel we are after here, and the goose bumps that accompany time travel. For those who want to speed by historical sites singing “YMCA” so that they can cross a significant historical site off of a list, there are other tour companies. It is an essential part of our dynamic that we strive to offer more, and if you check out our reviews on TripAdvisor and Yelp you will see that we have succeeded in our efforts to bring about a walking tour that exceeds expectations.
But you all know what school field trips can be like. Students, thrilled to be out of the confines of the school building, often in the early days of spring, find it hard to listen to stories about Benjamin Franklin or George Washington. The most important question they have is, “When do we eat?”
We decided that we were committed to providing a better experience. We spoke with teachers, parents, and psychologists in an attempt to create a school field trip that may insight and engage the students, and I believe we have done so.
Benjamin Franklin had a saying: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” The key to making a field trip successful, we were told by just about everybody we talked to, is to find a way to involve the students.
And so, this year we have created a program that does just that. First of all, the class will receive a visit from Dr. Benjamin Rush prior to the field trip, and he will engage the students in a discussion of the issues and events, the people and places, on which the walking tour focuses. Dr. Rush was present at the creation, and he knew all of the Founders intimately. By bringing him to the classroom or auditorium, we break down the difference between 2017 and 1776, as well as between the students themselves and the Founders. By directly engaging with Dr. Rush, students are able to see history first-hand instead of through the pages of a text book or the pictures from a PowerPoint presentation.
Dr. Rush will divide the classroom and give each student a particular Founder to focus on during the tour. In this way, we allow the students to participate in the presentation of the sites by giving them the educational material beforehand. Instead of having them listen to a tour guide, they will themselves be intrinsically involved in giving the tour to their classmates.
This works! I have seen first-hand the difference between engaging the students in this way and allowing them to stand back and observe me lecture them. I am truly excited about this new field trip.
If you are interested in giving your students this kind of opportunity, contact us at 610-642-2410, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.