Today's environmental science field trip got me thinking about how little the average teenager considers the natural world outside their door. I was encouraged that students found time between texting their friends to examine the ecosystem at Merry Lea today. But I realized that I grew up in a different world, where I was told to play outside after school (and actually had a yard), taught to enjoy working in a garden (and eating the produce), and went camping every summer.
I believe that every child has the right to:
1. Get truly, honestly dirty with real dirt, soil, and grime. And relish it.
2. Experience a truly fresh garden tomato, straight off the vine.
3. Have nothing better to do but stare at the night sky in awe.
4. Watch a caterpillar turn into a butterfly.
5. Be able to explain where their food comes from.
6. Plant something, tend it, watch it grow, and reap the benefits (flowers, food, etc)
7. Understand their connection to the ecosystems of the world.
8. Play outside until a parent calls them in for a bath.
9. Roast marshmallows around a campfire after a day of hiking in the woods.
10. Climb a tree.
11. Learn how to swim.
12. Above all, to relish the "great outdoors" rather than cower in fear, screaming shrilly at any insect or worm that crosses their path.
This type of ecological education seems much more important to me than reciting "answers" from a textbook. I hope to incorporate all of these into my classroom, if/when I get one. After all, how is one expected to care about the world and its resources if s/he has never experienced it?