I ran across an article I wrote some 23 years ago. As I re-read it, I realized that nothing much has changed from then. No lessons learned. No suggestion taken.
I felt obliged to submit it again for new eyes and creative thinkers to ponder the words of a 10-year-old boy in hopes that someone somewhere “gets it."
In light of the ongoing financial problems of our schools, I have made some observations. I have expressed these to many parents and young adults in our area and they encouraged me to submit my suggestions in this manner.
I have been looking at why so many of our students move out of the area after graduation and wonder if we, as educators and parents, are "training" them to do so.
Look at our field trips. Why is it that we send our kids to the Mall of America, Minnesota Twins games, Metrodome, Minnesota Zoo, Valley Fair, Guthrie, etc. when we have many of these activities in Duluth, Bemidji, Grand Forks, Hibbing, Grand Rapids, etc.?
Talk to the students — they say there is nothing in northern Minnesota!
What about the Wolf Center, Lake Superior Aquarium in Duluth, trips to the Laurentian Divide discussing the glacial period and geological findings, Lake Itasca (source of our Mississippi River), the grand mound west of International Falls, tours of historical societies, local corporations, the mines, the numerous other educational resources right in our own backyard and north of St. Cloud.
Two years ago, my son and I spent a week at the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland, near Ely. The experience was very educational and an outstanding experience for both of us. On our way home, we stopped at Gooseberry Falls, the Split Rock Lighthouse, Two Harbors Shipping Museum, Duluth ore docks and numerous natural sites along the way.
Riding in my car, my son, of 10 years old, spoke with wisdom beyond his years. He said, "Dad, instead of the schools always taking us to the Cities for field trips, why don't we turn the buses north and go to places like these?"
I was an excellent question. I recalled chaperoning a trip to the Minnesota Twins game for the school one time. On the way home, I questioned 66 kids on that trip. Two students knew the final score of the game and five knew who the Twins played. The trip lasted 12 hours. I thought, for what?
Maybe it's time to seriously look at the experiences we are trying to provide for our children. What are the expenses involved and the outcomes achieved? Maybe my son had a novel idea.
Let's start a campaign to turn the buses north.