Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Environmental Awareness

A collection of rewarewa leaves and flowers -and a ceramic tui. Tuis feed off the rewarewa, commonly called for this very reason honeysuckle . From such collection an interesting painting could evolve.

As I wander around my garden, or as I walk down the driveway to a school, I am always on the lookout for ideas to share with young people - trouble is these days I don't have a class or a school to share such ideas with.

I was pleased, while visiting a local school, when a teacher on seeing me, rushed over to ask me to visit her classroom. She wanted to show me the results of a kowhai study that she had based on one of my recent blogs.

This time of the year the Rewarewa ( or Honeysuckle) is in flower and around their base you can pick up flowers , last years seed 'pods' and of course leaves.

Rewarewa are a common native tree and are well worth a study. It maybe possible to visit a tree or at least bring a few flowers and seed 'pods' along for children to wonder about, to observe and to draw.

Students need to be encouraged to look carefully, use their senses and, if drawn, to take their time, to go slow, so as to produce work of quality. It is important for students to learn to do things well. As they draw children can be encouraged to note their thought and their questions.

Following this books can be used to 'research' and develop their knowledge.

All this might lead into bush study or at least looking for native trees in the school grounds, or even buying a rewarewa tree to plant in the school.

Personally I believe that such small scale studies are vital to develop environmental awareness and will lead students to develop a love of their environment and then onto the more adult idea of sustainability.

The great thing is teachers can learn alongside their students and get away from the idea that teachers need to know first and then teach which seems to underpin much of what passes as teaching these days. This is demeaning for learners.

Children are born learners and are equipped with ways to learn that schools need to encourage. Adults are at best resources students can call on but their main role is to create the conditions for children to want to learn. It was Jerome Bruner who wrote that 'teaching is the canny art of intellectual temptation'.

And a long time a go that wonderful teacher Socrates simply asked questions of his students believing that the knowledge was within.

Another Greek Plato wisely wrote that the 'task of the teacher is not to place knowledge where it does not exist but to lead the minds eye that it might see for itself'.

So my advice to to keep you eyes open for ideas to 'tempt' children and then help them learn for themselves. Spring is the time to develop this awareness.Such a lot of things to notice if you keep you eyes open. November is the best time for a harakeke, or NZ flax, study.

It is time to stop teaching and become co-learners.

It is about ensuring students become ' seekers, users, and creators of their own knowledge ' as it says in the revised New Zealand Curriculum.

More fun and easier.


Anonymous said...

Great idea. Teachers should be on the 'alert' for such seasonal changes to draw their students' attention to. The trouble is that many teachers have lost their 'alertness'.

Bruce said...

Teachers are just too focussed on implementing their intentional planning on kids to notice what interests their students or too notice what is happening in the immediate evironment.