Post Field Studies Entry
As evident by now, the final field studies package that my group submitted was vastly different from the initial one which we had planned. We had initially planned the fieldtrip to be conducted at Pulau Ubin but it ended up being carried out at Chinatown instead.
The main reason why such a major shift in site (from an undeveloped to a highly developed and urbanised area) occurred was due to the unfeasibility of conducting a field trip there. We totally didn't expect the place to be huge! The size that I estimated and envisioned the place to be based on the scale given on the map was nowhere as huge as the real place. Therein lies a two very important learning lessons for us as teachers when it comes to conducting a fieldtrip: importance of a recce and not to overly rely on maps.
Come to think of it, these two points are inter-related. Therefore, maybe a better way of phrasing this lesson learnt could be "don't rely too much on maps as it is only through a recce that one gets to have a clearer idea of the place". In conceptualizing the activities for our fieldwork package, we had consulted and relied heavily on the Pulau Ubin map. In fact, going by the way we planned and decided things, it has seemed as though the map was a 3D representation of Pulau Ubin or something. It was only after we arrived at the place for our recce that we slowly began to get the full sense of it.
Admittedly, the recce left us feeling pretty lost (not literally though). All our initial plans seemed unfeasible. We tried to think of other activities we can have on Pulau Ubin for our field studies package and discussed it with both Mr Yee and Kenneth. Our consultation with them led us to the decision to scrap the Pulau Ubin idea and work on Chinatown instead. Chinatown was a good alternative choice for us since we had already done a mini field studies assignment on it for Mr Yee's lesson. All that was needed was for us to widen the scope that we had worked on previously and transform it into a full field studies package involving a pre-fieldtrip, during fieldtrip and post-fieldtrip activities.
With that conceptualization phase over, we finally moved on to getting our field studies package down in black and white. This in itself was a process that was stress inducing. It was stressful not because we did not have the content to work on. We did. Rather, it was due to the glitches we encountered while we're organizing and editing our package in Microsoft Word.
We had to cut, paste and move around the content so that it flows. After that, we had to do lots of editing. We had to make sure there were no grammatical errors in our project, that there was clarity in what we wrote, that all the necessary content needed was there, that the references were properly cited, that the page numbers flowed with the contents page and that there were no hiccups in the format (font, font size, spacing, paragraphing etc) used. With such a sheer amount of work to be done in editing, I was definitely glad that my team had enough manpower to divide the editing job.
I was even more glad when we headed to the printer's to get our package printed out. I really thought our work would end within 5 minutes. But NO!! It went to stretch on for another two to three hours at least. The supposed-last-look-through-the-project before sending it to the printer's uncovered other areas we missed which needed to be edited. With a groan, we set out to correct the mistakes. When we finally went to print it some two hours later and were collating the pages, we discovered yet MORE errors. This time, it had to do with the page numbering. They did not correspond to the page numbers stated on the content page AND we even missed out one or two more pages which should have been stated in the content page.
Therefore, imagine the look of dismay (not to mention how our stress-ometer suddenly rocketed sky high) when we realized that we needed to do MORE editing and re-print some pages. Thus, we had to go back to our document and edit the things inside. Thank goodness that was the last of the edits that we had to do as after that was done, we were (finally!) able to submit our field studies package.
As I pondered over what I just went through later that night, I began (it's so belated!) to fully appreciate the fieldtrip (or what little of it) which I went on as a student. I had never envisioned that a lot of thought and consideration went into the fieldtrips that I went on previously. It's only after I worked on this field studies package that the enormity of the effort put in finally dawned on me. The conceptualization phase, the recce, the tying up of lose ends etc...that was a whole LOT of work involved there!
The sheer amount of work is compunded by the fact that there were several issues pertaining to students' safety that needed to be considered. Though the pedagogical content would be important throughout the fieldtrip, teachers should also keep in mind issues of safety as well. This brings me to another point.
By now, I've already accepted the fact that I'm in a career that requires me to be thoughtful of my charges (the students!). Who says that a teacher only teaches ought to be shot. In instances like that of a fieldtrip, it is evident that the definition of a teacher encapsulates more than just teaching. Here, you're also their 'bodyguard'. You need to keep your eyes opened and ensure that at all times, nothing bad would befall them. This is a pretty daunting task considering that you're guarding (not to mention teaching and guiding) a group of students in an open environment.
Despite that, the value of fieldtrips should override the difficulties in conceptualizing it. Based on my past experiences, field trips have the ability of not only making the subject, topic and lesson more interesting but also, to induce interest in it. I also find that the relevance of what I have studied in textbook is only made explicit to me after I have seen and experienced it in real life. Another important thing to note about field trips is that it concretises our learning. Seeing something in real life makes it much more easier for us to remember.
Before I end this entry, I'd just like to introduce a site which provides an alternative to field trips. If you find planning and implementing field trips pretty daunting or, if you're too busy to conduct them, an alternative would be this. This site lists only some examples of virtual fieldtrips therefore, you can probably Google for more of such resources on the net if you find it inappropriate for your lesson. Frankly, I don't really find them all that useful as it seemed as though I'm reading just another textbook detailing a case study of that particular area. Then again I belong to the camp who subscribes to the notion that nothing beats bringing students out on field trips. Nuff' said.