Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Greetings EDTHP 115

Hello all. I want to welcome you to join us for a journey. This journey is at once about who we are, what we do, why we do it, and how what we do individually and collectively matters.

As current and future teachers, you and I probably believe that we can positively impact the world by teaching children, with those less experienced than us, or those who have learned differently than we have. I think we also probably believe that we can learn a great deal from the children with whom we work, with their families, and with our whole communities.

But what about about the places - the natural environmental places where we live? What do they teach us? What do we give to them and they give to us? These are questions at the hear of who we, in 3E-COE ask?

We focus on three things in our club with the goal of fostering more environmentally and ecologically aware people.
  • Our first pillar asks that we look at the natural environment and understand that it is a complex thing of which we are a part, a part that creates many side effects of which we can be both proud and ashamed. This leads to...
  • Our second pillar, that we are part of a web of natural relationships that the science and practice of ecology shows us. That is, by systematically examining the world(s) around us - the political, economic, social, and natural worlds - we can come to ways of understanding how we look at the natural world and are a part of it. This naturally leads us to...
  • Our third pillar, which is to bring our learning and doing into what John Dewey would call an "educative" mission that promotes "growth" toward a good end. In fact, many of our actions in 3E-COE create reflections on our experiences so that we can develop better practices as teachers and living people.
We focus on trying to integrate ecological thinking into the whole school system. Think about how many ways and at how many levels you could use a garden in any school.

Botany, biology, and organic and inorganic chemistry: Through the study of plants, fungus, animal, and microorganisms working in and through soil, air, water, and sunlight. We can learn about life cycles.

Meteorology and climatology: Think of the seasonality of the garden, its water and solar cycles.

English: Speaking of water. If you are a high school teacher interested in teaching Dune, you can incorporate its thoughts on water into the actual use of water where you live.

Math: From the simple arithmetic of the number of seeds you plant to fractions and proportions of how many mums we planted to how bloomed or differential equations of predator and prey relationships (that'd be a big garden and a pretty advanced class!) you can do it.

History, geography and anthropology: By growing sweet potatoes (if it's appropriate in your bioregion) you can investigate the natural evolutionary and cultural history of a kind of food used by the Incas and modern Africans.

Art and music: If you grow gourds, you can make musical instruments. Cooking. Poetry. The art of arranging the garden and its landscape.

Economics: If a garden works well, as it has at many schools from Vermont to northwest Washington state, children can sell the fruits and vegetables they grow and make a sustainable living.

Cooperative learning and team thinking: People work together and with something larger than themselves when they do this.

There is a reason that people remain lifetime gardeners. They always teach. They teach you about who and what you are in the place where you are.

This is only one petal on our "green school" flower. We have no shortage of media and natural sources to use for the development of formal and informal curriculum. From Edutopia's Climate Change Curricula to the Edible Schoolyard to the Center for Ecoliteracy to the Pennsylvania Center for Environmental Education, we have abundant resources.

As you can see, we are invested people. Our mission states, "We hope to create a way for students at Penn State to learn lessons about our natural environment, our ethical and ecological understanding of that environment, and how to create educational experiences that foster that understanding. Therefore, we strive for personal and communal sustainability defined as “the possibility that humans and other life will flourish on Earth forever.” Join us in this flourishing.

Please come to our meetings to learn and share more. First Thursday of every month at 7 pm in the Chambers PC Computer Lab. That means we have two more meetings this semester and then one more before Earth Day to shore things up for our plastic bottle greenhouse. More on that later.
April 1st @ 7 pm
April 15th @ 7 pm
Weekend of the 17-18th TBA
Please join us. Any questions or requests to be added to the mailing list, email Peter Buckland @

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