Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Elementary School Mind Blowing

One of the highlights of any child's elementary school education are the times they load the kids up and take them on some field trip to discover some new aspects of the world. Truthfully, as an adult I cannot imagine a more stressful situation for any group of teachers tasked for such an endeavor. 

During that particular early period of my life I still remember how on a first grade field trip one of my classmates got sick and starting puking at the county library and on the bus ride back to school. Since it was a "relatively" simple and short journey only two teachers were assigned to oversee our group. This miscalculation in staffing put both of them to the test as one tried to comfort the sick child, who was still doing her Linda Blair impersonation, while the other made sure the rest of us did not freak totally out. In the aftermath of the county library debacle about twenty kids in all came down with a nasty stomach bug while one of the teachers with us, a first year rookie, resigned. 

While obviously messy that was not the worst field trip I remember by a long shot. Just the next year someone at my school decided that the second and third grade classes needed exposure to the arts. All things considered, it was both an honorable and amazing attempt given that we are talking about South Carolina in the early 1970's, then again given the reactionary nature of my state in 2013 it may have actually been a more enlightened time back then.

Whatever the case a Greyhound bus was chartered and after all the kids were counted about a dozen times for safety reasons we were loaded up and driven to the most beautiful city in North America, Charleston, South Carolina. I do not remember the name of the museum but I believe it was on Meeting Street and as kids can get we were very eager to get off the bus once we arrived. The problem was that we were not the only group there and had to wait a long time outside before we entered the building. We are talking about what amounted to an eternity for second graders but even that ended at some point but when we did enter the building we were stopped yet again at the foyer. By this time several of the museum employees were also overseeing all these hyper-energized kids with their patience being sorely tested. 

Case in point was the huge abstract painting hanging on the opposite wall of the foyer. It was a real canvas art work and it was beyond our ability to ignore with several of us drifting over to touch it. This really bothered the museum workers to the point one of them told us that if we stared at the painting our minds would be blown. While someone only a few years older would understand the true meaning of that statement for a bunch of impatient second graders it was taken quite literally. Several of us actually started to worry our brains might explode if we looked at the painting. A sort of panic began to spread to the point that even the skeptical kids began to believe their brains might be in danger.

After a few minutes a surreal kind of riot broke out with a number of my classmates in tears. Thankfully, the bottleneck opened up and we then left the foyer to enter the main part of the museum. Like all trips it eventually ended with us boarding the bus for the ride back to the school. If I live to a hundred I will never forget seeing the dazed and tired expressions on the faces of the teachers who accompanied us, nor will I forget the small bottle they passed around.


Mr. Charleston said...

Seems to me it serves them right. Anyone dumb enough to carry a bunch of first and second graders to a library or an art museum deserve what they get. Fortunately, I can't remember a damned thing about first or second grade but I really enjoyed your tales. BTW, check out Murr Brewster this morning, it's a scream.

Akelamalu said...

Having accompanied more than one school trip I can confirm it is a very stressful situation. ;)

Randal Graves said...

By trip, you of course mean the good stuff found in the candy of urban legend. It was the early 70s, after all.

lime said...

pretty funny that last bit. i've chaperoned plenty of field trips over the years. the most memorable incidents were the boy who refused the toilet before departure then needed a coke bottle during the bus ride.

then there was the culminating activity after a unit on egypt. after many weeks of learning about ancient egypt the kids went to univ of pa to see the egypt exhibit. the well preserved, albeit quite dried up, male mummy in a state of unwrap is all any of the kids remembered.

Pixel Peeper said...

LOL at the abstract art blowing your mind!

The first field trip I remember was in second grade. No bus, we just walked really, really far. We ended up at a restaurant, and - since it was a hot day - bought something to drink. Cola beverages were more expensive than beer, so about half of us got beer.

I love telling this story here in the U.S. almost as much as I enjoy telling people that in Germany we didn't have milk deliveries; we had beer deliveries.

Life As I Know It Now said...

My son's field trip in the 4th grade was the last one I ever "volunteered" to go on as a chaperone. It was stressful in that there were so many kids and lots of noise but not anything out of the ordinary, that is until on the way back the bus stopped at The Golden Corral and the kids hit the dessert bar for all they were worth after eating dinner. I thought that was a major mistake and sure enough about 15 minutes after reboarding the bus, the kids were so loud and obnoxious I actually lost it and screamed shut up. Those kids were on a sugar high and loud as anything and it just became overwhelming to me. Well, they all shut up for a stunned minute before continuing where they left off. I told myself never again. Never, ever again.

Beach Bum said...

Mr. Charleston: Even with the disasters field trip were pretty common back then. What was funny was how they dropped off during middle school for me.

Akelamalu: I taged along on several of my kids field trip. One was so badly organized I took my daughter home before it was over.

Randal: They call them the "Good Old Dazes" for a reason.

Lime: Now that one would have been fun.

Pixel: "we had beer deliveries." While in the army I spent three months over in Germany and I knew there were a bunch of reasons why I loved it.

Life As I Know It: Now that was a bad trip.

Ranch Chimp said...

"Elementary School Mind Blowing" ... catchy title Bum, because when I first viewed it, I thought it was about another subject ... being that, THAT is exactly what todayz education system is doing to our kid's (blowing up their mind's ... heh, heh, heh, heh, heh with the crap they try to feed on them, and some educator's so dumb, not knowing that alot of the kid's made their game as well{: )

I remember one of them field trip's (which I alwayz loved just to get the Hell out of the confinement of the neatly rowed desk's in the flourescent prison of regular classes {: ) where we went to the Zoo, I probably was about 9/ 10 (?) ... I remember asking the teacher why the ape's were in cage's? (it looked like jail cell's or something to me I reckon), she told me something like it was for our protection ... I never forgot that Bum ... and later wondered why we bring these animal's out of the jungle's into the cities and put them in captivity? Just one of them childhood memories I wanted to share ... Thanx for the read Guy ...

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Fun post. Sounds like you went on some traumatic trips, there.

We went on a lot of field trips throughout school, but oddly enough, the one I remember best from elementary school is the one I missed. Our class went to one of the Baltimore newspaper buildings and got to see them set type and run the presses and all that neat stuff. I reeeeeally wanted to go, but just my luck, woke up sicker than sick with the measles. BUT when I went back to school, the teacher gave me a memento from the trip. It was a hunk of metal with raised lettering of my name. Cool, huh? I still have it.

Oh, yeah! Congratulations! You won Dianne's book on my blog.

John Gray said...

All too stressful
Personally I think that groups of kids never learn very much when they are out together.... They are just like a box of frogs......mad

Leave it to the parents , that's what I say

Mike Williams said...

I enjoyed my childhood field trips. I remember good behavior and cool stuff like dinosaur skeletons and human skeletons and a huge light up electrical brain in the health museum. As an adult I chaperoned my daughter's Kindergarten class on a field trip to the Honolulu Zoo with several mothers and bag lunches. Nice day. Some kids had problems but I never had to deal with them.