Thursday, May 1, 2008

Field Trips Are Not for the Meek

Stained glass window from the Saint-Germain-des-Pres monastery in Paris commemorating the life of St. Vincent

It is springtime, which means that schools across the country are heading out for field trips. My sixth grader went to NYC last week to visit Ellis Island as part of her English unit on immigration. This week it was my 4th graders' turn. I volunteered for and was chosen to chaperone her class field trip to the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore.

The bus ride up deserves its own post. Suffice it to say I sat on a school bus with 40 9/10-year-olds in different states of excitement. I had the back seat of the bus, which meant I had a front row seat on the madness. On the bus ride to the Walters a handful of kids were loud, but most stayed in their seats. The ride back was noisy and I pitied the teachers that had to teach these kids in the afternoon. I think kids in general do not do well with a change in routine. These kids were in fun mode not learning mode by the time we got back to school.

The museum field trip was a mixture of a docent-led tour of the museum preceded by a visit to the Family Art Center to do a craft. The students were given a circular piece of styrofoam and craft supplies. They were asked to create a scene on the styrofoam. All the kids enjoyed this activity.

Our group spent quite some time in front of a stained glass window devoted to St. Vincent (see above). The docent explained the story of St. Vincent to the students in great detail. The window was originally in the Lady Chapel at the monastery of Saint-Germain-des-Pres in Paris. Each panel of the window had a part of the story of St. Vincent, who was tortured and his body eventually ascended in to heaven. For me the most interesting aspect was the fourth panel from the top on the left. This panel does not depict a scene as it is just a collage of broken stained glass. The docent explained that art historians do not know what scene should be there, so the collage was added to fill the empty space.

1 comment:

Gabe said...

The Walters is an awesome museum! I also love stained-glass windows. For our honeymoon, my wife and I went to Paris and we visited the Notre-Dame Cathedral and the stained-glass windows are just unbelievable! I took several pictures of just the windows. I have seen a few here in the U.S., but you never quite see something so detailed, intricate and genuine that often. And besides the windows, the cathedral itself is astounding!