Not everything can be taught in a classroom. Some enrichment needs to be fostered outside of an educational setting, and that’s why I knew I wanted my students to have an experience they would never forget by taking them on a trip to New York City.
OCR Sociology provides fantastic topic areas to be covered and New York was the ideal setting to gain some holistic hands-on learning of the new A Level specification - and we packed in so much! The concrete jungle, the city that never sleeps, would be home to Derby College students for four days during half term.
Our students took a walking tour of Wall Street and saw the iconic bronze ‘charging bull’ sculpture, symbolising the strength of capitalism and therefore often a focal point for anti-capitalist protests. An ideal opportunity to recap Marxist theory! Taking in the sights of the stock exchange we saw America’s influence on the global economy.
A trip to the 9/11 Memorial Museum was of course thought provoking, allowing further insight into an event that shook the world. It led on to a discussion about diversity of cultures around the world and relationships between cultures.
After such an inspiring yet upsetting visit to the museum, we decided to lift the mood by reflecting on what we’d been talking about over a large slice of pizza (of course!) whilst getting to take in multiculturalism in Little Italy. We then needed to walk off the pizza - so off we went to walk the Brooklyn Bridge!
During a ferry ride, it really was a joy to sail past Lady Liberty - the iconic statue given to America by France symbolising freedom and democracy. This was also the first thing to be seen by masses (and we’re talking millions!) of immigrants on their long boat journeys to New York. I wanted my students to really think about the history of immigration and multiculturalism and the effects on identity and hybridity. The Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration provided a great insight to this with its wealth of history and exhibitions which have been designed to try and give a sense of what it was like to be a ‘new arrival’.
This day was really non-stop and next we visited the ‘Rockefella’ and did the infamous NBC studio tour where live TV is produced. The link with media aspects of sociology were important here and it also started to get us thinking about the new digital social world content in the second year of the new A Level.
Our final day saw a trip to Central Park. The vast open space in the middle of the city was a breath of fresh air. We even stopped off to pay our respects at Strawberry Fields, the popular culture icon, John Lennon’s memorial. Then on to Times Square to see consumerism at its best; stimulus for students to remind themselves about; the shift from a production to consumer based society, the reasons for the rise in consumer culture and the role of the media, sense of identity through consumer goods, and postmodernist theory.
Finally it was time to go back to the airport and although absolutely shattered we all had a fabulous time. It really was a trip of a life time that some students just wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do otherwise. The airline even gave all of our students’ wings (pins) – needless to say NYC, Derby College will be back!
Judith Copeland - Coordinator of Sociology - Derby College
Judith Copeland, Coordinator of Sociology at Derby College is our guest blogger. Here Judith has written about a trip to New York City with her students during the February Half Term, supporting the teaching of the OCR A Level Sociology specification.