Bob Ewing – Do you still marvel when you see a butterfly drifting from flower to flower? I do, while my reaction is not as intense as a child’s when he or she spots that first butterfly, I still stop and marvel at Nature’s design.
The look on the child’s face is how I would define awe, an emotion of respectful wonder and desire. Not to own the butterfly but to connect with it and understand what it is.
Education needs to inspire similar reactions in people; learning is exciting, intense and a library a place full of wonder and dreams.
Unfortunately, formal schooling seems to remove the wonder from the process and reduce it to rote, repetition, right and wrong. Learning demands experimentation and experiments are attempts to discover something.
Experiments involve observation and process, paying careful attention so you can note what took place. It is not a matter of right or wrong but doing, observing, recoding, analyzing, and starting over again.
If we are afraid to do, then we sit in our seats, heads down and education becomes an enemy, something to be endured rather than embraced.
Gardening can be the ideal learning experience. The gardener is in direct contact with Nature and works with her to make the garden grow. In a garden, not all efforts turn out the way we hoped they would. However, if we keep a journal and observe what is going on, carefully jotting down what is witnessed, learning will take place.
People learn by doing and in the garden there is always something to do. When theory and practice are brought together, which is what happens when gardening, a deep understanding forms, and while it may take time to be able to articulate what was learned, this experience provides an opportunity for self-expression, that is relating the experience in a poem, short story, essay, or a painting for example. It is not necessary to get it right but to bring the actions to life so they can be shared.
Schools need gardens and classes must be held outdoors, in the garden, as often as possible. Children in kindergarten through to grade 12 can benefit from spending time outdoors in the school garden, watching, interacting and recording. This activity will keep the brain fertile and provide a healthy foundation for knowledge to sprout and mature.
The garden is an ideal classroom and we need to return to it, as such, as soon as possible.