Sunday, September 21, 2014

A grounded education

We have a small pile of composting leaves and twigs sitting in a terrarium just below the windowsill in our classroom, home to a community of roly polies we sometimes use in AP Biology. They get get a nice warm home over the winter in exchange for occasionally running around in Petri dishes, amusing young adult humans.

One on the driveway a few minute ago....

Soon after turning on the class projector on Monday, a high-pitched chirpy whir came out of our terrarium--we had an unexpected stowaway, a lovesick cricket, who after a week still sings his plaintive song of unrequited love to a projector that spurns his advances.

All this in a tiny patch of earth less than a foot square and an inch or two deep.

That we think we can teach cartoon models of DNA for meaning in a culture that fails to recognize the thousands of hearts beating within the sound of a child's voice every time she steps outside speaks to how ungrounded we have become.

You will not find roly polies inside a board room; you'll rarely find them underneath fluorescent lights at all.They do what all animals do, without ever giving thought to the abstractions that distract humans.

We are animals, have been for as long as the pull bugs and the squirrels and the squids that are doing all the same things all animals have done for well over a half-billion years. The first commercial fluorescent lamp was sold in 1938, not so long ago--my grandfather was already middle-aged by then.

He knew how to live.

Don't let the hum of fluorescent light be the plaintive song of your child's life....



Mary Ann Reilly said...

I was reminded when I read this how my husband for all the years he taught would not use the florescent lights in the classroom. He replaced them with lamps we had from home.

Sure that was fire hazard and today I bet it's on someone's list to check before inspections and the like.

No hum.

doyle said...

Dang, I never thought about that!

I often keep the lights off, just using the light from the windows, but that gets tough come December.

I may try this this year! Thanks!

Jenny said...

For the past few years I had floor lamps around my classroom and twinkle Christmas lights strung up on two walls. I never turned on my overhead lights.

doyle said...

Dear Jenny,

I think you told me that before, and that I had planned on doing it, then it completely slipped my mind.

Think I'll do it this year!