Sunday, September 23, 2012

Just another weekend

While I plunged a few feet into the Delaware Bay this afternoon, where light fades to a diffuse chocolate, many of my students were immersed in Facebook.

While I wiled away my Saturday afternoon, stumbling upon a bald eagle that was scrounging around the abandoned nest of an osprey, many of my kids were watching college football on television.

While I poked around behind the back panel of my freezer, trying to decipher the evaporator fan ECM on a schematic in the jumble of wired objects in front of me, getting away with only one small laceration, my lambs were blowing each other up on Mass Effect 2--"When you're not playing it, you wish you were. When you are playing it, you can't imagine doing anything else."

While we ate clams we slaughtered and beans we picked, some of my students ate Big Macs and Whoppers. We saw dozens of monarch butterflies, tiny ghost crabs, and the last thrashing of a bluefish on an angler's hook, while our children glazed at Animal Planet.

I got to read some Bill Bryson, Charles Darwin, and may poke around with some Melville tonight. They're stuck reading some dry textbooks, at least those who are still playing the game.

If a child can get through a weekend without witnessing anything real, if we can assign homework worth far less than the same time spent meandering in a local park, if we keep caring more about preparing children for careers that will never exist than we do about how they spend their days today, well, we get the culture we deserve.

The ECM photo lifted from Electric Motor Warehouse


Jenny said...

One of my greatest frustrations at the elementary level is how many things we justify by saying, "We'll they need it for next year." What do they need for now? Why is everything about something in the future?

doyle said...

Dear Jenny,

The future is one of those abstract concepts that condemns us to a life unfulfilled.

OTOH, unfulfilled lives are good for the retail-based economy, no? =)

Jeffrey Michals-Brown said...

How bout some solid ideas for "homework" that's worthy of doing? I'll begin:

Go home and find some wild* dirt. (If you don't have a yard, find some in a weedy lot near home.) Put a good double-handful of it (just the dirt: no plants or roots) into a biggish transparent jar with a lid. A big mayonaisse or peanut butter jar (wash it well!) is just the thing. Put your name on jar and lid. Bring it to school and leave it on the classroom windowsill. We'll water it a bit, and leave it in the light for a few weeks. We'l poke around in it periodically. What do you think will happen in your jar? Why??

*That's dirt in which several things grow. Not garden dirt, unles the garden is seldom weeded or poisoned; same rule for lawn dirt. And NOT potting soil, which isn't dirt at all.

doyle said...

Dear Jeffrey,

I LOVE this idea!!!

I plan to use it this week--our kids are healing, and this will help.