Have you ever tried to herd a bunch of cats?
I have not.
But, after today's field trip, I feel like the cowboy in the above picture and I would have stories to compare.
Every year, we take our 6th graders to the local art museum. Actually, they go once per year in 4th, 5th, and 6th grades as part of our district's art curriculum standards. So, they always whine and moan before we have the chance to tell them that the 6th grade tour is a completely different experience.
In 6th grade, they tour the outdoor sculpture collection, which means that we are not in a contained building. We roam around on our city's college campus, racing from sculpture to sculpture for a solid 45 minutes.
The docents walk quickly, and in between sculptures, students have approximately six million things that distract them from walking. For many students, it's their first time on a college campus. They see skateboarders, bikers, students napping in the grass, young males who they think play for their favorite college football team, young females who are not properly clothed, fashion trends to which they haven't yet been exposed, and people with non-traditional hair colors or styles. They hear songs coming from the bell tower and they catch a whiff of pizza coming from the Student Union. It is ten minutes past their normal lunch time, and that pizza smell makes listening about art nearly impossible.
Steph, Mrs. Green (our counselor), Mrs. M (our resource teacher), and I all rode the bus with our first language arts block. Each of us was responsible for one group of 10-14 kids. The first tour was pretty typical. Our docent was very knowledgable, and we got to see most of the student favorites.
First, we went into the museum lobby to see their exhibition in honor of El Dio de los Muertos. This wasn't part of the sculpture tour (obviously), but our docent thought students might be interested. We saw things like this:
Lovely, aren't they?
Then, we ventured outside and saw things like this:
(Note: I'm only uploading pictures in which you can't see the faces of my students. As it turns out, parents like to maintain the privacy of their children. And I like my job enough to comply with that preference.)
While we were on this tour, the remaining teachers back at the ranch were loading up a second group of kids. The only adult on their bus was Mrs. Carnie, our instructional coordinator. She stayed for the second tour, and Mrs. Green rode the bus back to school with the first group.
For this tour, we had a different docent.
Now, as with most museums (I'm sure) the experience, good or bad, depends on the quality of the docent. I must say, both of our docents today were very knowledgable about their subject matter. And both of them did a great job speaking to the students in plain language.
However, Docent #2 choose to take us on the road less traveled.
The demographic of my second group was 9 boys and 4 girls. So, I'm sure you can imagine what was going through my mind (and theirs) when she took us to our first stop:
My girls were less than amused with "Sandy: in Defined Space..."
They kept a safe distance.
My boys, on the other hand...
took the front-row view.
Then, our docent encouraged them to get closer and walk all the way around it.
I thought they were going to lose it. But they held it together pretty well.
After this lovely lady, we moved on to this one:
Her first question to them: "What do you notice about her?"
(Fun fact: I heard on the radio one morning that in a recent study, it was found that by 6th grade, 100% of 6th graders have learned how to lie). Their responses to her question would lead me to believe the results of that study:
Student A: "She has no hair."
Docent: "What else do you notice?"
Student B: "She looks kind of like a mermaid."
Student C: "She has really big thighs."
Student D: "Her arms are very welcoming."
Student E: "She has a small waist."
Maybe I'm not giving them enough credit. But the first thing that I noticed was this woman's extremely large chest.
After the naked ladies, we moved on to the smoker:
It was at this point that I started to imagine the dinner table conversations that would happen tonight.
Parent: "How was your field trip?"
Parent: "What did you see?"
Student: "Naked ladies and a smoking guy."
I'm hoping that the rest of the tour stuck with them more.
At the end of our tour, she asked them what their favorite sculpture was.
None of them responded with the name of one of our first three sculptures.
I would suggest that they will probably soon forget about the sculptures that they saw today, just as they have forgotten about the portraits that they have seen in years past.
But I can't say that.
Because she gave them trading cards of the sculptures we saw. And in my world, trading cards are only a short step down from Silly Bandz.
All-in-all, it was a good day. But I'm thankful that we can return to "normal" tomorrow.