|My kiddos on a field trip to a one room school house last year|
Since someone asked me about this over the weekend, I figured, hey--already looked it up, might as well share! ;-) Especially appropriate since this is our last week of school. Oh yeah. Right about now the kids are mighty glad we didn't take a bunch of snow days! ;-)
Field trip comes from the idea of field...not as in "an open piece of land, often cultivated" (which dates from time immemorial) but from the idea of field being a place where things happen. This is a slightly newer meaning that began evolving in the 1300s. (I said slightly newer, not new, LOL.) By then it could mean a battleground. And by mid-century, a "sphere or place of related things." By the mid-1700s people would refer to field-work as anything that took one out of the office or laboratory and into the world, where things take place.
Field trip, then, is a natural extension of this meaning. It's a trip into the field, going out of the classroom and into the world where the things you've been learning about can be found. Though an actually-new phrase (from the 1950s), it has its foundation on a nicely aged idea. =)