There They Go


Yesterday was sublime! I got to spend the day with my daughter and two of her best friends. I was their chaperone as their class took a trip to the local zoo. And while I may have been the chaperone, they were the ones that gave me the education.

Watching children, up close, simply enjoy life and being with one another made me wonder if maybe we should start looking after them less and let them look after us more. We have so much to learn from them! I was taking mental notes the entire time, and it was overwhelming! The sheer joy in just being was beautiful! What I saw yesterday, I don’t see in school!

Why not?

What is more important than friendship, caring, happiness, and love of life?


This trip involved no bells and whistles. Nothing fancy and no tour guide. To be quite honest, we were able to see all of the animals in about 40 minutes. The rest of the time was spent simply walking around and playing at the playground.  Yet these girls kept commenting that this was one of the “best days of their life.”



I think it was because..

They had time because they were not being timed. They had space because there were no boundaries. They had freedom because they had choice. But more than anything, they had each other.

When and why does this stop mattering? We must find out. We can’t allow them to look back at old photos and wonder why they were so happy then. This must be something that they never forget. This must be something that they teach us.

When was the last time you saw three photos of sober adults this unabashedly happy?


Arm in arm. Happy. Carefree. Beautiful. Now it is our turn to chaperone. Now it is our turn to watch after them, guide them, see that this Unceasing Joy (Brad Gustafson) stays with them.

Is this photo a possibility ten years from now? Or will they not even sit together in the cafeteria because they are each a different shade of tan?

Is this photo a possibility ten years from now? Or will life and school have sucked so much fun out of them that they no longer take these long and confident strides?

Is this photo a possibility ten years from now? Or will they be so aware of self that they no longer notice each other?

Now is the time to let them chaperone us. Guide us. Teach us how to enjoy life.

There they go.



  1. So true, so true!

    I was talking with Tom Whitford yesterday and the topic of field trips and student behavior came up. Why is it that some of our biggest challenges behave beautifully on field trips? I was given a couple behavior issues on our last field trip. The entire day was wonderful. The two of them listened, laughed and engaged in the trip. I sit back and wonder…what has school missed?

    Well said Jon, I hope school doesn’t suck it out of them…but I can’t say that with 100% confidence.

  2. Jon, saw much of the same while on our class field trip. Many students had not been to our local zoo before, and so for them, just being able to experience it was powerful. But even for the others that had been before, the opportunity to connect and to explore, and engage and learn at their own pace was just plain fun. These experiences are important, and so many districts are looking to eliminate them, when in reality we need to find ways to increase these opportunities.

  3. Reblogged this on Actualization and commented:
    “What I saw yesterday, I don’t see in school!” Jon Harper @Jonharper70bd shares is reflections on taking a class trip with his daughter, and why every day in the classroom can’t create the excitement and enthusiasm he took in on that day. Agree? Disagree? What are your thoughts? 

  4. Jon, I love the challenge you place before educators. I’m not willing to give up, I think there’s a lot we can learn about experiences like this that we can bring into our classrooms. As you always Jon, your thoughtfulness and sensitivity come through so clearly in your writing. You are a great dad!

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