Lesson 11 on Learning from Experience
If there was one thing I hated, it was the school trip. I detested coach journeys at the best of times, but it got even worse when I started teaching in London, because every trip began in a rush hour traffic jam, so that people started to feel sick before you had remotely neared the destination.
My pupils, however, tended to miss out on these jaunts. Either they were in the wrong group, or they were ill, or they were deemed too unreliable to be trusted to behave. Maybe they were just too disorganised to bring back their permission forms. For whatever reason, they missed out.
So they began to close in on me, correctly identifying the weakest in the teaching herd.
“Miss, we never go anywhere!”
“I’m sure that’s not true. Didn’t you go to the Roman Villa?”
“No Miss! And they all went to the seaside after the villa, and got to go on the beach!”
In the end they wore me down till I agreed to take my group on their very own trip.
There were only ten of us, so we could fit in the school minibus. (I had to go to the Civic Centre and take the Minibus Driving Test). The regulations also permitted us to make the journey with only one member of staff. All that remained was to select a destination. Unhampered in those days by the need for any link to the curriculum we could just go for a nice day out.
My priorities were simple:
- it had to be near enough so nobody got sick
- it had to be cheap
- there had to be no opportunity for shop lifting
- or getting lost
- the route had to be against the rush hour traffic.
In the end we agreed on Box Hill, because somebody had been there before and said it was great. I had visited there in the very distant past and it seemed to meet my priorities.
Box Hill is a popular place for weekend outings in the Home Counties, but quieter during the week. It has various educational points of interest, but we weren’t concerned with those. We were off for for a picnic and a day in the country.
I realised my mistake the moment we arrived. I had forgotten Box Hill’s great attraction is that it is very high and very, very steep.
My pupils were delighted. They leapt ahead up the grassy slope waving their packed lunches. They quickly discovered that if you put down your packed lunch, you could lie down on the grass and roll back down the alarming slope. I clambered up after them trying to remonstrate, but they were like stabled horses let out for the spring.
They climbed higher and higher. In vain I said we should stop for our picnic.
“But Miss, we’ve got to get to the top!”
At the top we had our picnic, they exhausted by their exertions, me by anxiety and terror. I have no head for heights.
The view from the top is truly amazing. You can see over all the fields, roads and knots of habitation. The entire countryside stretches out below you into the far distance towards the South Coast. As we gazed I felt a hand slip into mine.
“Look Miss,” said a awed voice, “It’s just like geography!”