Monday, March 22, 2021

Field Trips


I am sad to say that the new version of The Magic Schoolbus appears to have replaced Ms. Frizzle with a Stepford Wife. Or perhaps, what a Stepford wife might have looked like while contemplating her first day of high school. Take a look for yourself.

This is both infuriating and depressing. The obvious infantilising of someone who is meant to be an adult authority figure and a valued mentor is yet another example of how our culture delegitimizes women. The illustration on the left shows someone who is savvy, capable, quirky, with a sense of humor. On the right? A blank slate.

To add a bit of local color to this story, I found the following exchange on Twitter:

I'm not sure if we know the location of the school in Magic School Bus, but I know for a fact it's not Montgomery County, MD because they'd have been sued to death by about ten thousand helicopter parents for all those field trips

It’s definitely Howard County and Ms. Frizzle 100% is from Ellicott City.


This seems to suggest that Montgomery County is far less permissive in the realm of field trips than Howard County. It’s been my experience that the rules around field trips in HoCo have become far more restrictive in recent years, so, I don’t know about that. Now that school systems have whole departments dedicated to Risk Management, everything is a potential risk. In one school a team-building event for teachers to play mini golf was rejected as too dangerous. For adults.

None of this seems remotely relevant after a year of no field trips whatsoever. Leaving the house feels like a field trip to some of us. As more and more people are vaccinated and the health of our communities begins to stabilize, there will be more opportunities for parents to do what they can to give their children those Field Trip experiences as places like museums, farms, and other such educational venues reopen. (I see that the Howard County Library is beginning the process of reopening. Now that’s a free field trip where you get to bring home something with you!)

If you are able to provide these experiences for your children it is a blessing. It means you have the assorted financial privilege and personal freedoms in your life to make it happen. If you are not, then your kids are the ones who will get the most out of school field trips. They can open up the world for children whose personal worlds are limited by poverty and/or family circumstance. And may I just say,

Long live school field trips!

But don’t let your child get on the bus if the person on the right (in the illustration above) is driving. I’m not at all certain she’s even old enough to get her driver’s license.

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