Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Clam rake vs. pickle dish

At the end of the day, the hallways are cluttered with abandoned papers. I picked one up.
Quadratic equations, lots of them, scrawled out with the tentativeness of an adolescent's hand.

I'll rake for clams this weekend, fish for striped bass, then bumble in the still chilly garden for a bit.

Which means reading tide charts, currents, and dirt.

I can't tell you how many times I got hit with quadratic equations, electromotive force charts, trig tables, and that freaking pickle jar in Ethan Frome way back in high school.

Then I'd go home and go fishing.

Not saying school wasn't useful--I may still have a decade or two to stumble upon a situation where I might need to decipher broken pickle dishes--but I learned a lot more useful stuff staring at the surf than I ever learned in school.

1:1 computers doesn't change this.


Leslie said...

You know how much I love stories-- it's not the need to decipher the stupid pickle dish that's the worst part; it's just that that's the most soul-crushingly depressing story...

Jenny said...

I was thinking of you Sunday evening at ASCD while sitting in a session on outdoor learning spaces. It was designed for early childhood and there are a lot of things I'm hoping to do as a result. But it saddened me to think that we value (at least some folks do) the outdoors for young children but that it ends somewhere in elementary school. Everyone should have outdoor learning spaces.

doyle said...

Dear Jenny,

Sounds like it was a great conference. Congrats on presenting!

A few things only make sense when sitting outdoors. Open sky puts a huge dent in hubris.

doyle said...

Dear Leslie,

"The Lottery" ranks right up there--though I know you freaking hate allegories.....

John T. Spencer said...

I wish I had a way to tap into some of that. I wish I could take my students out there. For me, it would look different. I'd like to paint a mural by the freeway overpass or visit a food bank with the students, not during free time, but during the day, each week.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to rake clams (if we had some) but even the permission to grow a garden has been a slow, tentative process.

doyle said...

Dear John,

For what it's worth, I doubt I'll ever take a student clamming. I do, however, show them pictures of me clamming, just to show them what's possible beyond the screens that taunt their days.

We don't have gardens--we have tiny pots sitting under lights, on windowsills. That's enough, even if I want more. It's enough to get them curious. Once they're curious, my job is done....