How The Other Classmate Lives: A Field Trip

I got an email a few months ago from my son’s Room Parent at The Willows School telling me the kids would be taking a field trip to a classmate’s house on the Westside to see their horse ranch. This classmate is the child of a board member. I was speechless. There was little information provided except that the trip tied into the novels about horses they were reading in class. Really?

 

Those of you with kids at L.A. private schools know there are some very wealthy families at these schools. It comes with the territory and if your kid become friends with theirs, you might glimpse a life that’s very different than your own (or maybe not). But, most school field trips are to museums, Watts Towers, the beach, The Aquarium and other historic and/or meaningful, educational venues. Most of the school’s previous field trips were excellent. Never had I questioned the purpose of any of them.

 

I wondered if this field trip would offer any learning opportunities like having a vet discuss the anatomy of a horse or something like that. Or, would it simply be a show-off trip to see how another well-off classmate lives?

 

Thinking about some of the kids who live in apartments or normal size homes, I thought about the message this trip would send to them. What useful purpose would it serve? A few moms of girls worried about the “Queen Bees and Wannabes” mean girl syndrome a trip like this could perpetuate.

 

I thought about scheduling a dentist appointment for my son the morning of the trip. I considered calling the school to inquire about whether there would be any learning opportunities beyond petting a horse on the trip. My better judgement prevailed. Calling the school would only cause me problems. I’d never get a real answer. Besides, I knew the real reason.

 

My son went on the field trip. When I asked him how it was, he told me it was “dumb.” “We petted horses and watched the board member/homeowner’s daughter ride her horse,” he told me. Lunch, he explained laughing, consisted of bacon, hardboiled eggs and fruit, served by a private chef. My guess is that *somebody* at the house was on a high protein diet and thought the kids should be too.

 

What my son learned from the trip isn’t something I could have told him. He learned an important life lesson by going on the field trip. I’m so glad he went.

 

 

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Christina Simon: Los Angeles, California, United States I'm the mom of a daughter (15) and a son (12) who attend Viewpoint School in Calabasas. I live in Coldwater Canyon with my family and a rescue pit bull, Cocoa. Contact me at csimon2007@gmail.com

18 thoughts on “How The Other Classmate Lives: A Field Trip

  1. I’m just glad the lesson your kid learned was not “Can I have a pony, too?” Unless of course, you want that. I took my scouts to the equestrian center and we had stations; one to learn basic riding (at the walk), one for grooming and one for learning how to drive a horse (and the history behind that). They couldn’t get enough. This could’ve been handled way differently. Thanks for sharing -

  2. Holy Horse Crap! What a revolting field trip for the school to endorse. What a testament to you and your husband that your son is so well raised he got JUST the right lesson from the trip.

  3. Seriously, not cool and what a waste of resources – the bus taking them there, the learning opportunity, etc. Even a trip to the park or beach would have been more educational. This is why schools need policies in place on such basic things as field trips so they don’t have to placate the uber wealthy families who want to show off.

  4. Grody. I hope you didn’t have to pay for the field trip, too! How great that your son is grounded enough to see this for exactly what it was :)

  5. Those kinds of field trips aren’t happening only in Los Angeles. Even when they are educational, the socioeconomic divide is evident to the kids. It was one of my least favorite things about my children attending private school, even in preschool. I wanted my kids to experience a diversity that just wasn’t there. And the school can be pressured by the bigger donors, for sure. Absolutely. Money always talks.

    1. Hi Calimom, I’m not at all surprised that these type of field trips happen in other areas, but it was the first time it happened at our school. Very disappointing! Thanks for your comment! – Christina

  6. What a disappointment & waste of time That trip sounds like (although your son did learn a lesson). As self-serving as it was, they still could have tried to make something out of it. But your description of what they did there & the food is kind of hilarious. Sigh. So far we haven’t had anything at all like that where my kids go. Thank goodness!

  7. Love your perspective, all around. Thank you for reminding us there are people like you still out there (in the independent school world)! The apple does not fall far from the tree with your son.

    1. Thanks, Stacy. I definitely wasn’t the only mom who was upset about this field trip, but we all have to pick our battles to fight and this one didn’t seem like it was one I/we could win. – Christina

  8. I’ll be really succinct: If the parents of this house were responsible for volunteering this opportunity: Shame On Them. (It’s one thing to have kids over to play… all good… but to do an ‘educational field trip’… shame on the adults.)

  9. I grew up in a very small town in Montana, about 15 miles away from a reservation. Most of my friends were Indian. My father was a Dentist there and we had a very privileged life. I went to one of my Indian friends sleep over/ birthday party. We had a great time even though there was 7 of us sleeping in a two bedroom tiny, tiny house. The next morning the girls mom was making breakfast and I asked her when we would be getting the cake ready. The mother said, Oh I’m sorry, my daughter had a choice, breakfast for all her friends or a cake. She chose breakfast as we don’t have much money. That moment has defined the rest of my life and I was extremely grateful for the learning experience.

  10. I appreciate how you don’t try to sugarcoat things or make schools seem like something they aren’t. By revealing what a wasteful and poorly thought out field trip your son’s school organized, I know what an unbiased portrayal of the system you provide. Thanks for the honesty.

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