Saturday, February 9, 2013

October light again

On the last day of October, a couple of days after Sandy had reshaped our shores, the sun rose at 6:27 AM here, then snuggled its way west at 4:53 PM, ten hours and 26 minutes later. The sunlight was dimming.

Today, for the first time since Sandy, we had ten hours and 26 minutes of sunshine, again. We're shoveling out of a moderate winter storm, but we're OK, again.

And the sunlight is returning.

I teach biology, but most of my lambs will leave my classroom in June, and not really get their connection to the sun. Every step they take, every thought of those they love, every complex molecule in their bodies owes its existence to the sun.

I'm OK with this.

What I am  not OK with is filling their heads with so much nonsense that they no longer notice that the sun comes, the sun goes, and then comes back again.

I expect I have a few more days left with exactly 10 hours and 26 minutes of sunlight. But not so many as I used to.

I have no desire to tell my students what to do.
I do care, though, to let them know they only have a finite amount of time to do it.

I teach children. What do you do?


Kate said...

I also teach children. I teach them why words matter.

Glad the storm was moderate - and I enjoy a good "isn't the snow beautiful" photo.

We wait for the sun, so glad that it is returning; the rosemary that I brought in for the winter is pining. Spindly, twisting twigs reach for the weak sunshine. I promised it yesterday that it wouldn't be long now.

Jeffrey Michals-Brown said...

The young seem constitutionally unable to contemplate their own end. This might be healthy, I don't know. For that matter, many card-carrying AARP members also seem unable. Not so healthy.

doyle said...

Dear Kate,

I hope your rosemary survives the winter--we have one outside down the shore that flowers off and on throughout the winter, and on the rare warm day above 50F, a few honeybees can be found staggering around the tiny blue blooms.

I hope your promise is true....

Dear Jeffrey,

Not sure any of us are very good at it, despite the evidence to the contrary. I have watched a few children slowly die lonely deaths because they could contemplate it, even while those older could not (or would not).

Barbara said...

I used to teach very little children, and you would be glad to know that we would spend a lot of time outside finding and holding worms, growing potatoes from potatoes, watching ants work and looking carefully for critter prints in the snow, sand or mud. We observed leaf buds in the spring, and amassed colorful collections of different leaves in the fall. We'd find evidence of dogs and cats of course, but also deer, ground hogs, squirrels, birds, bees, wasps, spiders, butterflies and pill bugs. I hope your high schoolers can still find the joy of a roly poly. My little ones certainly did. But we were a different type of school that took the time to do this and our parents loved us for it. Our competitors were more successful (financially) because they excelled in "academics". I refused to bend in the academic spin cycle, so now I say I "used to teach" very little children. I have shared the science of observation with well over a thousand children and hopefully they will remember to share it with theirs.

Today I could almost feel the day lengthen. My grandmother would always remind us how much longer the day was, and you could hear the joy in her voice. But she never told us how many minutes we lost after the summer solstice. She lived to see 101 on December 28, and then two days longer. I think she knew that we’d be okay because the sun was coming back. I can’t worry over how many more days of sunshine I will see, I just rejoice with every morning. And even if it snows, I know the ground is warming with each ray of light that hits it and the daffodils and crocus know it too !

doyle said...

Dear Barbara,

What a nice comment! I wish I could learn more about your grandmother.

Turns out that even my seniors love pill bugs--many were unaware of their existence. If all I do is make some students aware that the natural world is larger than their imagination, and that this world is part of all of us, I'd have done something worthwhile