Saturday, September 1, 2012

Biology dies in a classroom

I got a bellyful of clams from our back bay and beans from our garden. what else is there to say?

Today I got my thumb chomped as well as it has been in 4 decades by a blue crab, saw a hummingbird sit on a dead yucca stalk, watched 4 admiral butterflies flutter on a pod of zinnias started from seeds harvested from last year's zinnias, saw a few hundred killies, saw my second favorite bird (an oystercatcher) on a tidal flat, picked about a hundred or so string beans, waded in the Delaware Bay, got bit by (and slaughtered) a dozen or so mosquitoes, paddled a couple of miles, watched diffuse sunlight set on the water,and in a minute will be eating clams harvested by me.

A decent sized bluefish caught by my daughter....

And in four days I start "teaching" biology in a room lit up by fluorescent light, cooled by a compressor, using 21st technology reduced to an interactive white board that made a lot of money for SMART Technologies, but really, when you get down to it, doesn't have much effect on student understanding.

I do what I can--the room already has local critters--sow bugs, centipedes, spiders, millipedes, and will have a lot more in the next few weeks.

The natural world blows away anything I can do in the classroom.
The natural world blows away anything I can say to my kids.

To tell a kid she's made of stardust, while true, does little good in a culture that puts corporations over people. Why would a child even believe that in a classroom dominated by fluorescent lights and a Smartboard?

So we plant stuff. A lot.
...eaten before the next high tide.

Students expect their beans to germinate, flower, and fruit in less time than it takes to complete a round of WoW. But that's OK, in the end, they get a bean pod or two, for nothing more than a little care.

We have a generation of children who receive accolades less rewarding than a simple bean pod--in the end, the beans win.

I am a government agent charged with teaching biology--and that's exactly what I plan to do.

If your child leaves my classroom hungry for real food, for wisdom, for life, I've done my job.

P.S.: I am going to tell your lamb she is going to die. This should not be news to children.


Fran M said...

Go shape those young impressionable minds, Mike!

doyle said...

Dear Fran,

Oh, I mean to! Why else teach?

John T. Spencer said...

We talk about death, even if we don't talk about biology (not covered in the sixth grade). Reading "The Giver" forces us to ask hard questions whether we want to or not.

Sherrie Lynn said...

"Education must not simply teach work—it must teach life." - W.E.B. DU BOIS

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Michelle, but Y-O-U-[apostrophe]-R-E means "you are". Y-O-U-R means your!