MAP vs. non-MAP: Field trips lead to unequal high school experiences

October 26, 2016 — by Neil Rao

Facebook Notification: “Nathan Ching is live in Times Square.”      

As I clicked on the notification, I jealously watched the livestream as 11 Media Arts Program students strolled down Central Park and strutted down the red carpet in October, all while I was sitting at home in my 5-year-old robe, studying the Intermediate Value Theorem and learning about the character Tituba in Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.”

As many students have noticed, MAP life seems to be more enjoyable than the regular program. As a “reg” student, I have seen how MAP students attend several field trips a year, while the rest of us hardly even leave their rooms.

Yes, non-MAP students chose to be in regular classes, but the difference between MAP and regular classes is much greater than I would have anticipated.

As a reg student, I was led to believe that the main difference in the two classes was that MAP involved more group work. However, after many Socratic seminars and group presentations in my regular classes, I experience plenty of group activities as well.

But while reg students are busy analyzing books in class, MAP students seem to be out filming projects and otherwise leaving the classroom for exciting field trips to Angel Island, New York and Los Angeles, just to name a few.

One of the MAP field trips includes a trip to a ropes ladder course in San Francisco during sophomore year. When I found out that the reason for the field trip was “to bond,” I felt betrayed.

How does climbing ropes have anything to do with world history? While my peers went off to swing on ropes like Tarzan, I was stuck living vicariously through a boy named Piggy, whose head was smashed by a boulder in William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies.”

Additionally, as juniors, the MAP program takes students to Angel Island for historical background on their courses. In reg, the only historical background I got was that of the Puritans through Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” and “The Crucible” — of course, much more in-class work. Again and again, I end up wondering why MAP students always seem to have the more enjoyable experiences.

While I am in no way criticizing reg or MAP classes, I am  annoyed at the sharp differences in curriculum, especially in terms of field trips. It seems unfair that only MAP students have the opportunity to visit places like Warner Brothers and Universal Studios.

On behalf of all reg students: Why can’t we at least have a few field trips now and then?

If reg students were allowed to have a field trip at least once a semester, not only would they be allowed a break from intense analysis, but it would also help add balance to the school experience and perhaps decrease some stress. One day, I hope a reg student can have their own livestream during a class field trip and not have to watch only one group have all the fun.