Remember the days of field trips? That elated feeling you get just knowing that instead of going to school and sitting in boring class all day, you would be able to take a bus to another place and pretend to learn something, even though the true endgame was just to mess around. It’s almost a better feeling than the weekend, because it is as if you’ve pulled one over on the school, by convincing the people in charge to let you go on this little vacation. Well, I’m here to tell you that that feeling never goes away.
Even as an education professional, field trips are incredibly exciting. You have that same sense of getting away with something, only now you’re getting paid! Unfortunately I don’t get to go on many field trips these days. Before today I had not been on one in almost two years. That last trip? A tour of Cal State Dominguez Hills. A fine school, I’m sure (I’m not sure), but hardly a fun field trip. So, when I was offered a spot as a chaperone on a trip to the Getty Villa by my school’s art history teacher, you bet your butt that I jumped at the chance to go.
60 students. 5 chaperones. One bus. That math doesn’t quite add up. There was really only room for one chaperone to ride with the kids, so the rest of us were going to have to drive. My driving buddy was supposed to be one of the new counselors that I unfortunately have not had a chance to interact much with just yet. I can’t imagine anything more awkward. So instead I got to ride in a car with that young lady, the school’s former principal, and the head of HR. That’s a much more comfortable situation. For an hour plus drive from South Central to Malibu.
The ride actually didn’t end up being too bad. Our former director is a natural entertainer, so she did all of the talking. For everyone. I just kicked back and tried not to use my phone too much. Not for fear of being perceived as rude (because really, who cares?); I just wanted to have enough battery life to get through the day.
“But what about the Villa?” you ask in an exasperated fashion. Well, it was cool. I’m not super into art, which sounds like something a character you’re supposed to hate would say in a movie. But it’s true. I don’t seek it out. When I come across it, however, I can usually find something to capture my interest. And the Getty Villa itself is like one big art piece. It’s an ode to Ancient Greek and Roman design, and I’ve already talked about how much I love that time period.
My group’s tour guide – Elizabeth – played right into that, talking up the stories that inspired the art. Unfortunately for her, I happened to get the one group of kids in the world that just isn’t really into all that mythology stuff. Bless her heart though, because Elizabeth tried. A little extra volume might have helped her out.
I was proud of my students. They were respectful to Elizabeth, and they followed all of the rules. They quickly adjusted to the omni-presence of marble penises throughout the building, and never even tried to touch any of them. When they finally had a chance to touch something though (just the walls in the stairwell), they went crazy. I guess everyone needs that release.
I certainly did. The list of rules for chaperones was possibly longer than those for the kids, including such ridiculous items as “don’t point at the artwork” and “don’t bring pens into the museum.” I may be a responsible adult whose job it is to mold this country’s future, but even I have my limits. So I carried a pen with me the entire day, as a form of rebellion and protest.
Did anyone notice? Probably not. I would like to think they did. Maybe they thought “that guy is so confident, there’s no way he’s going to do anything inappropriate with that pen.” And I didn’t. Because as liberating as that field trip freedom is, I still know how to conduct myself in the wild. Today’s field trip may not have been what I was expecting, but I had a good time, and I made a statement while I did it.