The Value of Field Trips (Visit to the Greensboro International Civil Rights Museum)

Our trip to the International Civil Rights Museum provided both insight and hands-on experience into the intersections between social studies content and the role of field trips in bringing content into context. The field trip experience itself modeled the importance of teaching about the past in a way that allows them to engage with stories that impact the present. The tour guide did an incredible job narrating the stories and the life experiences of people during more segregated and divided times, which shows that students can study the historical times in the classroom but truly engage with it through field trips such as this one. This field trip impacted me personally by showing that students need to experience artifacts and hands-on replicas to bring what is otherwise images in a textbook to life.

As a future teacher, there were several ideas that came to mind throughout the trip as to how to effectively bring social studies content to life. The first, and main, realization I had was that it is important to maximize local opportunities that address history curriculum that teaches to society-wide issues. Even though I experienced countless history field trips growing up in the Washington D.C. area, many of which focused on Civil Rights and government, this field trip addresses the same content but connects students to their local Greensboro and/or North Carolina state history and the role those people played in the country-wide issue of segregation, discrimination, and civil rights issues.  The second realization was that field trips allow for multi-dimensional lessons that engage more senses and the multiple intelligences into one content area. With different noises, sounds, staging areas, etc., this museum provided multiple ways for learners to engage with the content.

Overall, this field trip demonstrates the value of utilizing resources outside of the classroom to enhance what you are teaching and students are learning within it. Whenever teachers begin teaching, whether it is in a new area or their hometown, it is essential that they take time to learn what local history took place in nearby cities and states, as well as what resources exist to serve as possible guest speakers or field trip sites.


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