corporations sponsoring field trips??? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 19 Old 06-03-2003, 10:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Good lord - dd isn't school-age, yet, but is this normal? Do any of your schools participate in this?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp...nguage=printer

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Athanasas had no doubt that the students would say "Petco" in the days after the field trip. "By the weekend, at least 10 will be here with their families to show them what they got to see -- and to redeem the coupon" for free goldfish that each received.

The Petco field trip is one of a growing number of activities that businesses offer to bring to schools. Knowing that schools are strapped, companies see an opportunity to offer a community service and marketing message at the same time.

"That's where the kids are," said Tom Harris, vice president of sales and marketing for the National Theatre for Children, whose productions bring corporate-sponsored messages into elementary and middle schools. "It's a captive audience and in a world of where kids are torn between the Internet, IM [instant messaging], sports, TV and radio, school is the place where marketers can find them in an uncluttered environment."

The business goes far beyond schools sharing profits from vending machines or selling naming rights to a stadium or cafeteria. An industry of subcontractors, such as the Field Trip Factory of Chicago, which set up the Arnold school's trip, has been created to help corporate America get brand names and messages into the classroom.
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#2 of 19 Old 06-03-2003, 11:22 AM
 
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This is a touchy subject, eh? I go back and forth about it, too. While I think it is important for children to see the behind the scenes of business the marketing aspect of it is sort of underhanded.

I used to direct a before/afterschool program and summer camp. We did tour area businesses. The kids loved it! Seing how ice cream was made, soda was made, how much backstock a grocer has, how pizza dough is made, etc. Most did give the kids coupons for their return visit.

Very tricky...

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#3 of 19 Old 06-03-2003, 11:37 AM
 
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I think this is great. All of our homeschool field trips are to businesses that are generous enough to give our children a free tour (and it never occured to me to call petco. That will be on my to do list today) and what a bonus if they give the kids free stuff! And when people are generous enough to take the time out of thier busy day to play with our children and educate them a little we are just fine to make sure our children remember which business are friendly to homeschooler and you better believe we make an effort to shop there over places that weren't so kind to us.

I own a business and a one of the classes at a local high school regularly spends a day of class hanging out at our sporting goods store. Aslo they know our name when we leave they are familiar with the names of our products and it is our hope that they will; be back in with thier parents within 7 days. We took 4 hours out of our busy day to help educate them about bikes and accessories they owe us thier business (and the people who teach the class have been loyal customers for a long time).

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#4 of 19 Old 06-03-2003, 01:50 PM - Thread Starter
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I own a business and a one of the classes at a local high school regularly spends a day of class hanging out at our sporting goods store. Aslo they know our name when we leave they are familiar with the names of our products and it is our hope that they will; be back in with thier parents within 7 days. We took 4 hours out of our busy day to help educate them about bikes and accessories they owe us thier business
Egad - and no offense, lilyka - this is exactly why I find this so horrifying! It's one thing to do this with teens, as you do, lilyka, but quite another to do it with elementary school students, as was the case in the article. The whole point from the business' standpoint is to generate new customers and more business. And I absolutely do not want my dd, while in school, for chrissakes, to be turned into some retail cow to be milked for whatever money she has.

A culture of consumerism already pervades this country. Children are highly impressionable. If you get them while they're young, they're often more likely than mature adults to unthinkingly swallow the message. And children get quite enough exposure to the marektplace through going to the store with their parents and so forth. As such, commercial businesses have no business in our schools.
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#5 of 19 Old 06-03-2003, 09:24 PM
 
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children ARE impressionable. I also think there is a big difference between a multinational corporation that has deliberate marketing campaign aimed at young children and a small sporting goods store trying to generate business in a small town. I think the difference is people just trying to make a living vs. rampant consumerism. I think it's important to differentiate this, because people will always need to make a living in this country, and will need to attract new business. In my son's school, there are occasionally commercial interests that are represented (like coupons for the local hot dog street vendor) but this is different than having a corporation sponsor the cafeteria or something purely for the goal of building brand loyalty.

 
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#6 of 19 Old 06-04-2003, 12:55 AM
 
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I wanted to point out, just for clarity sake that we do teach a class to them and our goal wasn't to suck in consumers. They approached us but since we are spending money to educate them we feel like we have a right to pitch our bussiness to them.

When our groups have gone on tours at local businesses we have gotten good quality education (bakeries, bowling alleys, a company that take s satalite pictures) and they are places I might not have shopped at and will now because hey, they are nice to homeschoolers nd offer free educational stuff to little kids.

when it comes right down to it little kids shouldn't be consumers. t doesn't matter who advertises to them if the parents are caving it is there fault and they are the ones getting sucked in. that doesn't make the education or funb that the children had anyless valuble just because the people who gave it to them is asking for thier business in return.

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#7 of 19 Old 06-04-2003, 01:51 PM
 
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I think it's inappropriate and I would pull my kid out of school for the day. Field trips should not be at the mall or at any large corporation. Field trips should be outdoors and at tide pools and at places one can volunteer (like humane society) and other fun, useful things like that.
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#8 of 19 Old 06-04-2003, 06:14 PM
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actually we enjoy these types of field trips. The home school group that I am is often goes on such trips. We had a wonderful field trip just 2 weeks ago to a local gravel mine. We've also taken tours of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and CiCi's pizza in the last couple of months. The kids love seeing behind the scenes of places they are familiar with.
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#9 of 19 Old 06-04-2003, 10:47 PM
 
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I think it is great for kids to visit things they are interested in and see behind the scenes. I don't think it is great if there is a pitch involved, whether it is a sales pitch or an opinion pitch. Selling is by its nature a persuasive, rather than critical, look at the product involved. Critical thinking is supposed to be part of education, but I don't think that it is especially welcome on field trips of any kind. What would happen if a teacher in the group visiting a fast-food restaurant pointed out that the food isn't very nutritious and the bathrooms are not clean and wanted to know what the local manager was doing to improve the situation in her own restaurant? What if a visitor to a store asked pointed questions about the fair-trade policies of the store's purchasing manager? What if a child on a field trip to the local conservation area pointed out that trying to save some species of animals is so ridiculously hopeless that the money being spent to do so is being squandered? Would the field trip seem as worthwhile, or would it be ruined by someone trying to get answers to difficult questions?
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#10 of 19 Old 06-05-2003, 10:26 AM - Thread Starter
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ITA, Greaseball. That's what I would do. At this point, though, I'm starting to worry whether I'd inadvertently end up making dd into a pariah or something else of the sort, given the aspects of public school with which I disagree and which I intend to exempt dd, should we go the public school route. For example, the Texas legislature just made saying the Pledge of Alleigance to both the US and the TX flags mandatory in public schools each day, along with one minute of silence. I fully intend to make sure that no teacher, in any event, will coerce her into reciting either, or make her bow her head and close her eyes during the "moment of silence" (I'm sure peer pressure will come into play, however). I intend as well to keep her home on those days that any consumeristic field trips are taking place. Children ought not to be "asked for their business" in return for being shown something, and if any prohibition on expressly pitching one's business in exchange for showing kids around the store would keep businesses from doing such activities, then so be it. Unfortunately, it appears that schools are so eager for field trips that public funds no longer support that they'll take corporations up on their offers. Ugh.
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#11 of 19 Old 06-05-2003, 02:12 PM
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It's the thin end of the wedge. When I was a kid (feel free to roll eyes here) public museums and galleries did not have corporate logos splashed all over the exhibits, public television did not have commercials (PBS runs commercials, don't kid yourself), school cafeterias did not serve pre-fab branded food, and we did not watch commercial TV in class (except during the 1972 Canada-Russia World Cup hockey finals ). I have worked for a non-profit organisation that had to sell it's soul in order to get funding. Big corporations especially wanted to fund programs for kids but they had to get their name and product in front of the kids. They would not give money just as good citizens, there had to be something in it for them, ie they had to be able to market directly to the kids. And as a result our priorities were to please the funders and not to educate the kids. It's diabolical and scares the sh!t out of me.

On the other hand I can see that it would be educational and fun for kids to see behind the scenes at some businesses. I guess it's a gut thing. I think I'd go on the trip and if it bothered my gut I'd talk to the teacher and principal.
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#12 of 19 Old 06-05-2003, 05:56 PM
 
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I think there really are some things that are better shown on TV. I remember Mr. Rogers used to do various kinds of factory tours - he showed how things like books and erasers were made - so kids could just watch that instead of watching how a specific corporation does it.

Other things that are better on TV are animal stuff - I think a kid can learn more watching the Discovery channel where animals are in their natural habitat than they can learn from going to the zoo and watching them just lie there.
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#13 of 19 Old 06-05-2003, 10:35 PM
 
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My mom works as a librarian in a middle school, and the eighth grade takes a trip to Andersonville and Savannah every fall for 4 days. They do this field trip because the eighth graders study Georgia History in social studies.

So, this trip or something similar might be a better idea.
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#14 of 19 Old 06-05-2003, 10:40 PM - Thread Starter
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I agree. I think the issue is that many public schools (in particular) are strapped for cash. When you're trying to decide between pay cuts for your teachers or school-sponsored field trips for your students, most districts would (I hope) cut the field trips rather than teachers' pay. Accordingly, when some corporation comes along and says it'll provide the funds and time for the field trip, provided that it can determine (or have a strong hand in determining) what the content of the trip is, some schools are apparently jumping at the opportunity.

I say ditch the field trips if need be. Better none than corporate ones, IMO.
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#15 of 19 Old 06-05-2003, 11:05 PM
 
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I don't agree with the idea that all trips to businesses are a bad idea. A lot of businesses have come into being because people had a real passion for something and now they want to pass that passion on. Some posts here have made it seem like the only reason that a business would open its doors to visitors is to sell more product, and I don't think that is true. As with all things, though, it is important for the person organizing the trip to make sure it is worthwhile for the group attending. That means making sure that the children have a chance to ask thoughtful questions and get truthful answers.
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#16 of 19 Old 06-05-2003, 11:42 PM
 
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Maybe if they went to a business, they could also go to the competitors of that business. That way they learn about, say, how bread is made and not just how the Williams factory is the place to get bread.

Also, if one business had to pay for the kids to visit all the other businesses in addition to their own...
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#17 of 19 Old 06-11-2003, 02:29 PM
 
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i definitly have a problem with rampant consumerism america is possesed by, though i don't think that i would keep DS home on days planned for these types of activites (though DS won't be in a public school - so this is just hypothetical!) IF he wanted to go! I think that it would be pretty damaging to be left out of these activities. I guess i'm just waying this b/c fileld trips were my fam\vorite part of school!!! Mostly just b/c i got have fun and be a kid - unlike every other minute of school not on the playground!!

I would make sure to have a converstation with DS- not just at the time of the trip, but b/c it is a part of our belief system he would know about it before this ever came up. Let him go and have fun but also make him aware of what the company is doing---
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#18 of 19 Old 06-11-2003, 02:35 PM
 
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naturlmama, I like that idea--it's the same thing when we watch commercial TV--we talk about the message of the commercials, and I talk with my children about whether they'll be "tricked" into believing it. ("do you really think you will run faster if you drink 'x'?") I wouldn't keep my kids away from it, but even with the hot dog coupons our school gave out, I asked my son whether he thought that was fair to other businesses, etc.

 
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#19 of 19 Old 06-15-2003, 12:21 AM
 
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In grade 2 our schools do a community unit. They visit the police station, the fire station, the post office, the hospital and the bank and the grocery store.

In this context, the bank and grocery store visits make sense and are eduactional. They are "corporate" sponsered but these are services you will need as a member of a community and it was very interesting for the kids.
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