Finally, I should have gone on a school trip to Rome, to the Bavarian Forest, to China or Portugal. But of course nothing came of it. Corona killed it. So no international understanding in Brittany, no love affair in Masuria, no excursion to the North Cape, no host family in Athens.
“Class, level and course trips are among the most important events of any school career,” says a current reference work on the subject. Keyword “social skills”. In children’s and young people’s books, too, they are mostly described in hymns, the various school trips: From Conny to Ella, from little Nick to the Wild Chickens, from little vampires to Hanni and Nanni – everyone was of course happy on a school trip.
But in the end the school trips often did not take place. If the incidence at the “school or destination” was over 100, a recent decree issued by the Hessian Ministry of Culture stated that the trip would have to be canceled. In North Rhine-Westphalia and Saxony, too, the focus for the new school year is primarily on face-to-face teaching, and the Bavarian school authorities recently announced that they could only carry out multi-day trips to school children if “all infection protection regulations” were observed, participation is “voluntary” and a “free cancellation” is offered.
In other words: the risk lies with teachers and parents. And they shouldn’t have much desire to organize such trips in the school year 2021/22 either.
Positive test? Please pick up immediately!
And too far away, that would be risky anyway. Because if a child tests positive during the trip, which is a school excursion rule that is frequently encountered these days, the parents have to organize their child’s return journey themselves within 24 hours. You can read that a helpful woman from Steinhagen in North Rhine-Westphalia picked up the son of her friend who did not have a driving license, who tested positive, from a school trip from Berlin. After that, of course, she also had to be quarantined. “Do you also think that some things in this world can only be survived with humor and fun?” Says the a cappella group’s song “Klassenfahrt” Wise guys. Yes, we think so.
The history of school trips in the past had so many heroines and heroes! The international youth organizations, for example, which have been organizing exchanges with France, for example, for years. Or this Westerwald teacher, who started offering meetings with students in England and Poland on his own as early as the 1960s. As a former soldier, the pedagogue was firmly convinced that international understanding alone could save mankind from further wars and catastrophes.
Or this French teacher who helped German students to set up a school in Rwanda in the 1980s. The common walk with young Poles in 1988 on the ramp of the former concentration camp Auschwitz, the conversations with French farmers during a trip to the Vosges (“I still know this milk can from your father, my boy. He was a Nazi, right?”) , the accommodation of a youthful jazz band from Chicago in host families in a Rhineland village with a boat trip on Lake Biggesee – all of this shapes. If it happens.
“Since March 2020 our international exchange programs have almost completely come to a standstill,” says Bernd Böttcher from the “Exchange goes to school” initiative. He speaks of a “gap” that is “irretrievable”. Many contacts have already been lost, and online initiatives such as the European Commission’s school network “Etwinning” are trying to establish new connections.
To the foam party in Croatia? It really doesn’t have to be
Exchange programs and school trips are important. They shape the personality. A West Berlin boy named Jan Vetter, for example, came up with the idea of having his hair bleached and cut there on a school trip to London of all places. Later he called himself: Farin Urlaub. Comic hero Peter Parker, on the other hand, is bitten by a genetically modified spider – on a school trip, of course – and thus develops new powers as “Spiderman”. This can also be seen as a metaphor. Sure, in reality school trips are not about genetically modified spiders, but above all about who can sleep with whom in the bunk bed or sit on the bus. But that can also be quite exciting. Just like the gold treasure that Tom Sawyer (together with Becky) finds in a stalactite cave. During a school trip, of course.
Like in the second part of the German teen comedy “Fack ju Göhte”, it doesn’t have to go straight to Thailand to drink or, which is also quite popular, to go to a foam party in Croatia. Before the pandemic, German schoolchildren used the plane on every fourth class trip, according to a survey in Hamburg at the end of 2019. The plane! For example, to fly to a high ropes course in Mallorca. Event agencies like to offer this, because children and young people don’t like going to churches and museums. The poor. And in 2015 it was even possible for some high school students in Berlin, with government support of course, to go on a class trip to New York. It should be really nice there too. A Frankfurt grammar school, on the other hand, also before Corona, sent its students together with German pensioners on a cruise ship to Norway.
It would be really good if this nonsense is over now. Also in terms of the common European future, by the way. School trips were originally called “educational trips” anyway. And viewed in this way, they are not a bad idea at all, since the beginning of the 19th century.
Hopefully they’ll be going again soon. There is so much to discover very close by, with our neighbors. Sometimes even yourself.