This is just a quickie post before I go to bed, but I was thinking back to something a fifth-grader said to me today at lunch, shortly before he and his classmates were to leave Jekyll Island and head home. He was lamenting the fact that he had to go back to normal school after his three days at the environmental education center. “It’s just so cool,” he said fervently, “when what you’re learning about is right there in front of you!”
There you go, straight from the horse’s – uh, child’s – mouth, the justification for outdoor, place-based education boiled down to its simplest form. Even the fact that the school day here is far longer than his conventional one at home (our afternoon classes don’t end until almost five, and there are often evening classes as well, a long day for an eleven-year-old) didn’t dim his enthusiasm. This is just the latest addition to my store of memories of kids’ light bulb moments, like the girl who commented thoughtfully that demonstrations are much easier to understand than explanations, or the seventh-grader who suddenly got the concept of adaptation for the first time when I showed her how a swimming crab’s legs are different from a land crab’s. You never know what will get that spark going.
Environmental education: where what you’re learning about is right in front of you.