Charleston Gazette (West Virginia)


February 07, 2001, Wednesday


Day-tripping 'Rewards' out of hand


BYLINE: Gzedit


SECTION: Editorial; Pg. P4A


LENGTH: 446 words



WHEN a busload of Kanawha County students wrecked on Corridor G a couple weeks ago returning from Southridge Centre, some wondered what the students had been doing at the shopping center on a school day.

It turns out that they had been to see a movie at Marquee Cinemas. Not some educational film, mind you. They saw "The Emperor's New Groove," an insipid Disney cartoon with zero educational value.

So why were Kanawha County students spending a school morning at the movies? Excellent question. Sunday Gazette-Mail reporter Eric Eyre found that such "educational" field trips are common, and often include stops at shopping malls and fast-food restaurants.

According to Eyre's analysis of county travel records, some Kanawha County school sends kids to movies one out of every three school days. Last month, the rate was even higher.

"In December, we did one movie for a school every day," said Rob Thompson, manager of Marquee Cinemas. "We had so many in December, my brain was fogged. It was just nonstop."

Speaking of fogged brains, why are Kanawha County principals authorizing so many trips to see movies? Why are they engaging in "play school" instead of serious learning?

In the new high-tech economy, the maxim is: What you earn depends on what you learn. Only the well-educated who score high in knowledge skills will achieve good careers. SAT scores aren't improved by watching Disney cartoons.

Some principals defended the movie trips. Many students have never been to a theater, they said. Sometimes students watch movies based on books they previously read, they said.

What, like those literary classics "102 Dalmatians" and "Mission to Mars"?

Usually, though, the movie outings are simply rewards for good behavior, principals said. Students who get good grades, keep their attendance up or otherwise please their teachers, get a movie, bowling trip or other outing as an incentive.

Rewards for good behavior are fine, although psychologists warn that overemphasizing such rewards implants the wrong motives in pupils. Kids should develop a desire to learn, just for the satisfaction of acquiring knowledge.

Even more importantly, though, students shouldn't be wasting valuable and scarce instructional time watching movies, shopping or bowling. If schools want to reward students with activities that have no educational value, the activities should be held after school hours or on the weekends. Or, at the very least, on Faculty Senate days, when students would ordinarily have the day off.

We have our suspicions, though, that these "rewards" are as much for the teachers who get out of class as they are for the students.


LOAD-DATE: February 08, 2001




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