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Gas Prices, Virtual Art, and the Olympics

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Lead from the Start: Gas Prices, Virtual Art, and the Olympics

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Gas Prices, Virtual Art, and the Olympics

Pat over at Successful Teaching wrote this in her post I found at the Carnival of Education.

"I heard on the news today that local schools are being discouraged from taking field trips because of high gas prices. Teachers will need to see how to bring students on virtual field trips. Maybe they can invite people into their classrooms using Skype. If you can’t go to the art museum, maybe go to specific pictures of the art and have the art curator talk to the class over Skype about the art. Brainstorm with other teachers (in your real world or virtual world) about how to bring the world into the classroom."
How is a 4 year old going to learn about something they have never experienced?

It is really unfortunate that we would think that children's learning is the first thing we should sacrifice instead of any other number of things. Authentic art experiences can't be replaced by "virtual" experiences although the learning can be similar, the difference between one of my paintings online and in person is huge.

There is a perceptual shift when art is viewed online or in a book. Everything becomes 16"x20". Brush strokes become color without intent.
There are many pictures I have seen in books that did not impress me but, when I saw them at MOMA I was blown away.
Ethically, should field trips be the first thing we cut? Maybe something else should be at the front of the line like unnecessary administrative costs, or unused subscriptions to online resources that aren't used in classrooms.

Inviting people in with skype though, as Pat said, is a hugely important idea. Then you can talk to people in places you could NEVER go on a field trip to. I have found that many higher ed folks are very keen to talk with people for a few minutes from the other side of the country. How about learning about the Olympics from a person at the Olympics?

How else are 4 year olds going to connect what is happening half the world away to real experiences?

I wonder what Michael Phelps Skype name is?

photo credit: Pictlux (


At 5:56 AM, Anonymous jonah holland said...

This would also be a great time to encourage children to walk! There are so many things within a mile or so walk of many schools, and our teachers could set a great example to help combat the American idea that you should never walk anywhere -- only drive your car.

At 2:19 PM, Blogger Melissa B. said...

We've been discouraged from taking field trips for years, not because of gas prices but because of the liability involved. And after 9/11? It's getting to be a pretty dicey world out there! But let's set aside serious discussion for a bit. BTW, it's that time of week again--please drop on in for a little Silly Summer Sunday Sweepstakes. You have 2 chances to play!

At 4:10 AM, Blogger Nancy Flanagan said...

A perceptual shift, indeed.

THANK YOU for writing this blog. I have been having this discussion for years--why do students need to go to the symphony, when they can just listen to a CD in the classroom? Why do they need to play an instrument or sing when they can just watch someone else do it on TV--and do it "better?"

We have already become a world of spectators and critics. We purchase experiences that people in earlier generations got naturally (for example, physical exercise)--and now we're saying it "costs too much" to take children into the real world, because they can watch the real world on a little screen.

And we wonder why little kids are overweight and passive. You rock, John.


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