2009-12-17 / Community News

8th Grade Field Trip

Sometimes when an 8th grade teacher or group of teachers is feeling adventurous or suicidal, they plan a field trip. The problem is that 8th grade students’ brains are often not fully developed and sometimes nonexistent.

Only after they have decided to take this trip do the teachers realize that if a couple of kids don’t make it back, their parents might be miffed.

We all know who those kids are most likely to be: The ADHD kid who has to see just how far he can lean over a rail before plummeting to the ground; the impulsive boy, trying to impress the girls, carves his name in a piece of furniture of historical significance; the girl who has never learned to respect herself and pulls her shirt up so that everyone, especially the boys, can see her new push-up bra.

These are also the kids who make chaperoning a chore, because they are not on the field trip to learn and experience something new. This is a social event - a new venue for seeing just how far they can go before a chaperone narcs on them.

Those of us who do not have a 9-5 job feel obligated to go along and save the students from their own folly, or worse, an untimely demise, and in doing so we may save the school from a grisly lawsuit.

Since many 8th graders only have half a brain, taking them to a museum of any kind is like taking a blind man to an art gallery. I understand that we are trying to “expand their minds” but perhaps we should first start with films that show the effects of people falling out of 5-story buildings. We should have them restore a twohundred year old antique that had been vandalized. They should attend seminars given by promiscuous women whose lives were ruined by their own actions. That should expand their minds.

Yes, this is the responsibility of the kids’ parents. Ultimately, parents are the ones who should be sure that their offspring can be trusted to do nothing on a field trip that would get them arrested or killed. However, many adults still act like middle-schoolers. You probably work with one of them. Thank goodness these people are too irresponsible to ever consider volunteering to chaperone a field trip.

So I went. Each chaperone was given a sticker to wear that said “Chaperone” in big red letters, just in case there was any doubt. Most people would have been able to tell by the receding hairlines, the bags under our eyes and the fact that we were at least a foot taller than the units that needed to be chaperoned.

Because 8th-graders only have half a brain, we had to separate the genders: girls in the back of the bus, boys in the front. In spite of this there were still boys making reconnaissance forays into girl-territory on the premise of having to use the bus bathroom. The girls reacted like a pack of hungry wolves encountering fresh meat. The boys loved it.

Separating genders would be considered unconstitutional, and therefore illegal, in the real world, but, as I tell my kids, middle school is not the real world. In fact, it’s simply a nightmare, nothing more. They’ll forget all about it after a sufficient amount of therapy. What would be illegal, however, is allowing an atmosphere where two under-aged kids could have sex in the back of the bus while cell phones took videos to post on YouTube.

As a chaperone, it is my job to make sure that no child is left behind, no child ends up in jail and no child is conceived on the field trip.

Nope. Not happenin’. Not on my watch.

Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author & speaker. You can reach Laura at lsnyder@lauraonlife.com Or visit her website www.lauraonlife.com

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