When I was kid, school trips usually meant zoos, parks or if you were lucky, a museum. They would involve agonising coach rides of over two hours to reach London; sick buckets, ten green snotrags, snogging on the back row of the coach (or worse) and the grinding evitability that Class 3C would undoubtedly be banned from any further school trips after such demonstrations of deviant behaviour. They might have been quotidien, but it was a day off school and it was free.
That was then. Now, school trips involve words like 'enrichment', 'self reliance', 'exploration', 'embracing diversity' or 'personal development'. So, that would be no to the snogging then! They also involve handing over a large cheque and packing a bag that could equally be suited to backpacking around Africa for a year.
So, this week sees my nine year old depart for her first 'residential' school trip - a night at an adventure camp somewhere in the middle of the desert. Fun is promised: canoeing, kayaking, climbing, sand boarding - you name it, they'll be doing it. But of course, this is Dubai, and any self respecting school trips wouldn't be complete without those paragons of the education system here: the learning outcomes. Have you checked the learning outcomes for the trip, parents? Will you be giving an appropriate de-briefing on your child's return to ensure that they have mastered the SECRET? This is the latest mumbo-jumbo acronynm which involves the establishment of clear self reliance skills. Self reliance? How many self reliant nine year olds do you know? As far as I can tell, the activity which develops this essential life skill involves the children doing their own washing up. Hmm, how convenient. A true life lesson learned there for the future: how could we have possibly believed that our nine year olds could get by without that one, eh?
So, the only question I'll be asking my nine year old on her return is 'Did you have fun?' Now, I'm off to pack the Africa backpack for the third time, and try not to think that this is all just a bit too serious.