By Angela Le Quieu, Staff Reporter | Photo courtesy of Carmine Russo
Students are getting out of the classroom and going on field trips around New Mexico thanks to many of the CNM instructors initiating outside classroom activities and learning tools for a variety of the classes offered in the Spring 2014 term.
Presidential Fellow of Innovation, David Valdés’ said teachers who participated in the Fall 2013 Focus Groups of faculty, administration, community, and students suggested field trips as a way to improve academics, and according to the report “Focus Groups Report: Part 1 Ideas Generated by the groups from Fall 2013.
The program of innovation and the report’s public access are ways in which ideas from the focus groups find implementation at CNM, Valdés said.
These focus groups, however, do not represent the entire population of CNM, Valdés said.
Larry Bob Phillips, Fine Arts instructor, will be meeting with his Art History of the Southwest class at the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology at the UNM campus on Feb. 13, and he said that this trip is an opportunity for his students to see the artifacts that they have been studying in his class.
“I think being in the actual environment, like a museum setting for a history class, students get a feel for the subtleties that cannot be gotten any other way,” Phillips said.
Ideally he would take at least one field trip for every section he teaches in art history and studio arts, Phillips said.
In class guest lectures are also important tools used to enhance the learning experience of their students, Phillips said.
Every Spring term Anthropology Instructor, Shepard Jenks Jr., Ph.D. holds an unofficial trip to Chaco Canyon as well as other events on campus, he said.
On Feb. 20, 2014 former CNM Instructor and Navajo linguist, Jay Williams who is working with the Bureau of Indian affairs, will be speaking with living anthropology students at CNM about Navajo langue and culture, Jenks said.
“I offer it to anthropology students as a tourist thing; it’s a wonderful place for students to see.” Jenks said.
Students that go on the Chaco Canyon trip arrange their own transportation and meet up with Jenks who acts as a tour guide where he shows students Pueblo Bonito and other historical structures, he said.
Though most students stay only for one day, the trip offers a camping opportunity that sometimes allows them to look at the night sky as Chaco is a Night Sky Heritage site, Jenks said.
The Albuquerque Astronomical Society has telescopes in the area that scientists and park rangers can set up for students, Jenks said.
“Chaco feels like you are on another planet. You really feel like you’re just in a completely different place and I like it because it gets students out of their urban mindset,” Jenks said.
Jenks said he lets students know the weekend he will be going up to Chaco and invites them to join him.
The trip is an opportunity for students to complete a paper in which they visit a site or an event and write a response on the trip, Jenks said.
Anthropology instructor, Sue Ruth works with the CNM Anthropology club who also goes on field trips, such as, going to Petroglyph National Monument to do voluntary cleanup of construction and other debris dumbed at the site, she said.
She also takes classes on field trips to Petroglyph National Monument when she can, Ruth said.
“It’s great for people to see archeological sites first hand rather than just reading about them,” Ruth said.
Theater Arts Instructor, Joseph Damour said that instead of students going all at once to a play, they are required to go to a play on their own and write a paper on their experience.
Students chose one of three showings during a given weekend, which is then discussed in class, and in that way they still get a field trip experience that would otherwise be difficult to arrange, Damour said.
“It’s almost impossible to get 15 to 16 people together to go to a play outside of class time and at night.” Damour said.
Jenks said that he thinks field trips are just a wonderful opportunity for students in terms of organization and the real world where people are working around town.
“CNM should be bending over backwards to accommodate this process so that we have legitimate field trips,” Jenks said.
Culinary arts instructor, Chef Carmine Russo has taken his classes on field trips regularly over the years, he said.
Due to budget and time constraints he is unable to take his first term class on any field trips, but in the past he has taken classes to restaurants, food suppliers and warehouses, and to see renown Chefs such as Rick Bayless, Russo said.
“I believe students can learn more out of the classroom then if they spend all their educational experience in lecture and lab,” Russo said.