Saturday, October 28, 2017

Digital learning

Gardening as a radical act.

I wandered barefoot out to the garden at dawn, picked a few dried bean pods, heard them crackle as my hand felt for the seam, then slid my finger down through the velvety crease and stripped bean after bean from the pod into my open hand.

Back inside, I dropped the beans in with the others I collected last week, then plugged into the electronic "world," doing my weekly due diligence on #satchat, a fine group of edu-folk trying to improve our classroom practices.

The conversation went as these conversations tend to go, but the dichotomy of the life I live and the life we push in the classroom shook me this morning, so I'm tossing out these words mostly as a reminder (and a warning) to myself.

Blindness comes in many forms, but rarely voluntary. We are blinding our children to the dirt beneath their feet, to the air they breathe, to the sun and stars above. To the sensuous. To the world.


Barbara B. said...

Yes! I gathered my beans as well last week! And will replant again despite the less than satisfying results this year. And I completely agree we do rob children of the joy of outdoors., There are slides and swings and playhouses throughout the neighborhood, but no children on them. I fight against the tide of electronics with my grandson, meting out screen time (which he craves) as sparingly as sugary treats (which he also craves). I'm thankful he happens to be good with digital content, but equally as good with the book in the lap, puzzle on the floor world. He's drawn the solar system in chalk on the vast universe of my driveway. He's also been an explorer with binoculars and magnifying glass, and learned the calls of some birds. He's held a few worms and beetles and petted and fed a good many animals (with permission of friends and farmers). He wears a helmet and scoots in front of the house, but the bicycles are missing from the neighborhood, the peals of screams and laughter absent from the fresh air when windows are opened. Actually, aside from my own, windows are no longer opened . Have you noticed ? Houses don't even have screen doors anymore. You can play the sounds of nature with iTunes. School was always a place to learn what we could not experience in person from people who had a way of making the value of knowledge palpable and exciting. You do this, I know. I pray that those who follow in your bare footprints will do the same. I gave up early education when they started to give homework to 4 year olds.

Susan Eckert said...

I've had some students say they see the world differently after learning the content of my classes, whether that be the world of nature or their own bodies. So, I don't see it as a dichotomy, instead I see the natural world and the classroom as inextricably linked. And each can enhance the other. I guess you have to be deliberate to link both and find opportunities for their hands to touch the earth, a bone, to grow a plant from seed. But, I can say as a parent of kids who have phones and are on social media, that THIS digital world is far more likely to rob them of being connected to the natural world.

doyle said...

Dear Barbara,

Thanks for the words--I had not noticed the disappearing screens, but now that you mention it, it makes sense. I walk through the streets hearing the hum of ACs. We have quite a few skate boarders in the neighborhood, and I run into a lot of my students outside, so I still have hope. Once a child eats something from her own garden, she often wants more.

Dear Susan,

No better words than those--it's the goal of any good science class. I cannot imagine growing up in the world young children "live" in now.

I'd see the classroom and the natural world more linked if our kids had an open campus.