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“To neglect the wise sayings of great thinkers is to deny ourselves the truest education.” ~William James

Barry Goldwater on Field Trips

U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater was born in Phoenix on January 1, 1909, when Arizona was still a Territory. Although he attended public school, he credits his mother for much of his early education:

“I was a poorer scholar than some of my friends, better at athletics. Thanks to my courageous, remarkable mother, I knew a lot more about Arizona than many of my friends.

Before I was ten years old, “Mun” took us on camping trips to every remote corner: to the Grand Canyon, to the Navajo and Hopi reservations, to the border towns of Douglas and Nogales, to the high mountain places—Flagstaff, Show Low, and Springerville…

Mun told us the history of the places we visited. We had to learn and identify all the vegetation. She read to us from books about geology so that we could understand how the mountains and valleys were formed.” *

As a result of those early field trips, Goldwater developed an intimate knowledge and lifelong love of his home state. These enriching lessons and experiences stayed with Goldwater as he matured, leading to his interest in photography, history and culture.

*Excerpt from “Barry Goldwater Remembers,” by Barry Goldwater. (Goldwater, Barry M. With No Apologies, The Personal and Political Memoirs of United States Senator Barry M. Goldwater. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1979.)

Henry David Thoreau on Field Trips

It is a little-known fact that the modern-day school field trip was pioneered by the American essayist and naturalist, Henry David Thoreau, who was also a teacher. In 1838 he and his brother, rebelling against a repressive educational system, founded a progressive academy in which conventional lessons were supplemented with activities that moved education out of the classroom. There were frequent exploratory field trips, and not just to fields for nature study. They took their students to a local newspaper office to watch typesetting, and to a gunsmith to watch the regulating of gunsights. In the spring, each student had a small plot of ploughed land to plant. In the fall, Thoreau brought in surveying instruments to teach his students yet another kind of field work. The following account of a field trip to the site of an old Indian village was reported by F.B. Sanborn, one of Thoreau’s early biographers, in The Life of Henry David Thoreau (1917):

Thoreau called attention to a spot on the river-shore, where he fancied the Indians had made their fires, and perhaps had a fishing village. . . . “Do you see,” said Henry, “anything here that would be likely to attract Indians to this spot?” One boy said, “Why, here is the river for their fishing”; another pointed to the woodland near by, which could give them game. “Well, is there anything else?” pointing out a small rivulet that must come, he said, from a spring not far off, which could furnish water cooler than the river in summer; and a hillside above it that would keep off the north and northwest wind in winter. Then, moving inland a little farther, and looking carefully about, he struck his spade several times, without result. Presently, when the boys began to think their young teacher and guide was mistaken, his spade struck a stone. Moving forward a foot or two, he set his spade in again, struck another stone, and began to dig in a circle. He soon uncovered the red, fire-marked stones of the long-disused Indian fireplace; thus proving that he had been right in his conjecture. Having settled the point, he carefully covered up his find and replaced the turf. (Sanborn, F.B. The Life of Henry David Thoreau, 1917.)

Charlotte Mason on Field Trips

Charlotte Mason (1842-1923) believed that “education is an atmosphere, a discipline of habit, a life.” She advocated a down-to-earth philosophy highlighting the home, books, and the outdoors; and she encouraged parents to nurture their children with a “living” education. The following excerpt is from her book, Home Education, Vol. 1, Part II, “Out-Of-Door Life For The Children”:

A journey of twenty minutes by rail or omnibus, and a luncheon basket, will make a day in the country possible to most town dwellers; and if one day, why not many, even every suitable day? Supposing we have got them, what is to be done with these golden hours, so that every one shall be delightful? They must be spent with some method, or the mother will be taxed and the children bored. There is a great deal to be accomplished in this large fraction of the children’s day. They must be kept in a joyous temper all the time, or they will miss some of the strengthening and refreshing held in charge for them by the blessed air. They must be let alone, left to themselves a great deal, to take in what they can of the beauty of earth and heavens; for of the evils of modern education few are worse than this––that the perpetual cackle of his elders leaves the poor child not a moment of time, nor an inch of space, wherein to wonder––and grow. At the same time, here is the mother’s opportunity to train the seeing eye, the hearing ear, and to drop seeds of truth into the open soul of the child, which shall germinate, blossom, and bear fruit, without further help or knowledge of hers. Then, there is much to be got by perching in a tree or nestling in heather, but muscular development comes of more active ways, and an hour or two should be spent in vigorous play; and last, and truly least, a lesson or two must be got in. (Mason, Charlotte M. Home Education, 1935.)

Click here to read the rest of Charlotte Mason’s views on sightseeing and nature study in “Out-Of-Door Life For The Children.”


More Quotes on Travel & Field Trips

Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I will understand. ~Chinese Proverb

The fool wanders: the wise man travels. ~Thomas Fuller

In traveling, a man must carry knowledge with him if he would bring home knowledge. ~Samuel Johnson

Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education. ~Francis Bacon

The freedom to explore…is crucial to the development of creativity and intelligence. ~Raymond and Dorothy Moore

I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy, playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself, in now and then finding a smoother pebble, or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me. ~Isaac Newton

Every common miracle which the child sees with his own eyes makes of him for the moment another Newton. ~Charlotte Mason

Do you know how the naturalist learns all the secrets of the forest, of plants, of birds, of beasts, of reptiles, of fishes, of the rivers and the sea? When he goes into the woods the birds fly before him and he finds none; when he goes to the river bank, the fish and the reptile swim away and leave him alone. His secret is patience; he sits down, and sits still; he is a statue; he is a log.” ~Henry David Thoreau

Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books. ~John Lubbock

MO was a patient and loving mother. She read endlessly to all three of her children. She taught me to read by age four. She taught all three of us to play various card games, including gin rummy, canasta, bridge, hearts, and booray. She was an avid walker. When we were small she would walk with us for hours and look for interesting things to see— a wildflower, a pretty rock, an unusual plant or insect. We would pick up these treasures and carry them home to put in a favorite place to keep forever. ~Sandra Day O’Connor

Every walk should offer some knotty problem for the children to think out—“Why does that leaf float on the water, and this pebble sink?” and so on. ~Charlotte Mason

I think it would be worth the while to introduce a school of children to such [an oak grove], that they may get an idea of the primitive oaks before they are all gone, instead of hiring botanists to lecture to them when it is too late. ~Henry David Thoreau

Kids did not evolve to sit still for forty hours a week, not being allowed to talk to anybody else, and simply have to listen to lectures, or read from a text, and fill in worksheets. In a children’s museum, kids have an opportunity to work with very interesting kinds of things, at their own pace, in their own way, in my terms, using the kinds of intelligence which they’re strong in. If they’ve learned some concepts in school, they can try them out, at the very interesting kinds of displays at the museum. If the museum raises questions for them that they can’t answer, they can bring them back to school, or to parents, or to the library or somewhere. ~Howard Gardner

Let children feed on the good, the excellent, the great! Don’t get in their way with little lectures, facts, and guided tours! ~Charlotte Mason

Do you remember when you were a child and how excited you got about the many fascinating phenomena in the world? You didn’t worry about whether a subject was science or geography or whatever—if it was fun to know, it was fun. That positive attitude towards learning is largely why you became the person you are. If you were fortunate—and you probably were—your parents did their best to enrich your world and provide a good environment for learning. They took you on trips. They visited museums with you. They gave you good books. They knew what every conscientious parent knows: most learning in life happens outside the classroom. ~Mark Levine

You can’t tell a kid that it’s time to exercise; that’s a turn-off…you have to say ‘Let’s go to the park and have some fun.’ Then you get them to do some running, play on the swings, practice on the balance beam, basically get a full workout disguised as play. ~Arnold Schwarzenegger

Set the children free, let them have fair play, let them run out when it is raining, take off their shoes when they find pools of water, and when the grass of the meadows is damp with dew let them run about with bare feet and trample on it: let them rest quietly when the tree invites them to sleep in the shade; let them shout and laugh when the sun wakes them up in the morning, as it wakes up every other living creature which divides its day between waking and sleeping. ~Maria Montessori

Let Nature be your Teacher. ~William Wordsworth

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time. ~T.S. Eliot

If you wish to advance into the infinite, explore the finite in all directions. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. ~Mark Twain

Anyone can look for history in a museum. The creative explorer looks for history in a hardware store. ~Robert Wieder

In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration. ~Ansel Adams

At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be infinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. ~Henry David Thoreau

Calvin: “It’s a magical world, Hobbes, Ol’ Buddy . . . let’s go exploring!” ~Bill Watterson, Calvin’s last words, 12/31/95 (Calvin & Hobbes)


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