Thursday, February 08, 2007

Summer has arrived - time to go outdoors.

They have taken their time but the cicadas are now in full song.

It is always the way. As soon as the summer holidays have past summer actually arrives.

Teachers and their students, who have up to now had little experience of real heat, are now feeling it, but now confined to their classrooms.

Lets hope teachers have decided to vacate their rooms and do their learning in the cool shade outside.

Teachers who have not forgotten that environmental literacy is as important as book literacy will no doubt be really enjoying themselves. The big issue of the coming decade is not a literacy crisis but a climatic one. The sooner students develop an awareness of their environment , and in the process learn to love and respect it, the sooner they will see the need to sustain and protect it. As the future generation they will need to see it as the number one world problem.

If teachers do take their students outdoors they might begin to see that it is through rich sensory experiences that their students develop real insights and in the process expand them their all important vocabularies. They might even understand that in the beginning was not 'the word' but that in the beginning was 'the experience'.

So teachers ought to take this hot weather as an opportunity to go outside and let their children explore the environment through their senses. If it was good enough for Leonardo da Vinci; it is good enough for their students. Like Leonardo they need to see and interpret their experiences as, artists , poets mathematicians and scientists.

Outside children can sit under a tree and let their minds go for a walk. They can be taught to educate their senses - each sense introducing information for their growing minds to process. Listening bring in dimensions of sound, smelling will remind them forever of environmental experiences, touching opens the world of textures, and sight the world of movements, colours, and shapes.

Teachers who understand how brain grows will help their students expand on their ideas by encouraging students to see connections, to use language metaphorically , or to get them to simply describe what they can see. Teachers who appreciate the power of observation will encourage their students to draw what they can observe - encouraging them to focus on something of particular interests. Digital cameras assist in this process by bringing images back into class to further process.

In rooms ,with teachers who are environmentally aware, the evidence of students curiosity will be all around to see.There will be three line nature poems ( simple haiku), drawings , imaginative paintings, exciting phrases in their written language, and studies developing out of their reawakened curiosity.

Such teachers appreciate that by building on students questions and ideas about the immediate environment there is no need for imposing teacher planned curriculums on their captive students. By developing environmental awareness both teacher and students can learn to be co-explorers.

This is 'authentic' learning - building on how our brains were developed to work.

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Anonymous said...

It is this sensory involvement in the immediate environment that is missing these days in schools - too busy focusing on imposed 'best practices' or pre-planned units.

Anonymous said...

Sounds to much like common sense for the technocrats in Wellington to understand - they have long lost sight of such 'sensible'ideas.