Learning Out in the Larger World
Because we want to learn from the world and because a classroom can hardly contain all the burgeoning curiosity of our students’ minds, Lower school students frequently venture forth for a variety of field trips. Our students might go on a walk to Washington Square Park to make observations about the seasons, explore the Union Square Green Market to buy fall gourds in myriad shapes and colors, stroll on the Highline to learn how the community worked together to recover that space, ride the ferry to Governor’s Island to look back on the view of Manhattan as an island, or grab the subway to the Apollo Theater for a tour that brings Harlem and its history alive.
Field trips are often connected to social studies. For instance, early childhood students learning about each other’s families might visit each parent’s office, restaurant, or store; third graders studying the Lenape visit the Museum of Natural History; and fourth graders studying immigration travel to Ellis Island Immigration Station. Sometimes a field trip is a unique and timely opportunity to view art at a museum or gallery, or a dance or dramatic performance at a theater. Whether impromptu or annual, field trips are frequent and they add inspiration, information, and experiences to our studies.
Two hallmark overnight trips mark a rite of passage for our third and fourth graders. For three nights and four days in the fall students and teachers travel to Manhattan Country School Farm and Hawthorne Valley Farm. There they live and work together under guidance and supervision of the farmers (who are also excellent teachers). They milk cows, bake bread, harvest vegetables, hike and play, and get up early to feed the pigs and chickens. The experience is unique each year, but a guarantee is that they return having individually discovered marvelous new talents, confidence and independence, and having formed bonds and cooperation as a group at a deep and satisfying level.