Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Get out and learn about the campus environment and help too

Earth Week - Get Outside!
Help beautify Penn State’s newest green space!

Volunteer at the Arboretum, Wednesday, April 20, 9:00 to 11:00 a.m.

Help maintain Penn State's beautiful Arboretum! The project involves removing invasive plants (i.e. cutting and hauling brush) from the Arboretum's natural areas. We recommend volunteers wear good shoes/boots, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt and bring a water bottle. We provide work gloves and safety glasses, unless they would like to use your own. No tool needed. The work day begins at 9:00 a.m. Sign up to volunteer here.

Get Outside! Enjoy the spring weather on a guided walk with a with a Shaver’s Creek naturalist.

Campus Plant Walk, Tuesday, April 19, 12:00-12:45 p.m.

Take a mid-day break with Eric Burkhart, Plant Science Program Coordinator at Shaver's Creek Environmental Center, to learn more about plant life on campus. This 45-minute walk will include plant identification, as well as discussion of the traditional and contemporary uses of plants. Sign up today! (Registration required) Register here.

· Campus Bird Walk, Tuesday, April 21, 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Take a leisurely campus stroll to see and hear the numerous bird species that migrate through central Pennsylvania. Shaver's Creek naturalist Doug Wentzel will help participants identify the songs, calls and field marks of species from hawks and eagles to thrushes and woodpeckers. If you have them, bring a good pair of hiking boots, binoculars, any guide books you have, and an inquisitive mind! This walk is open to birders of all experience levels. All you need is curiosity. Some binoculars are available to borrow. (Registration required) Register here. 12p.m.- 1 p.m.; Meet at the Arboretum.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Real student-centered learning.

As teachers and future teachers we often think of ourselves as "professionals" who are owed some position of authority in a school system. We line ourselves up in rows in college classes to be imputed with information, skill sets, and best practices to convey content to the next generation. And at the alleged end of this school process, we end up working in a system that we love and hate.

We love working with children or young adults and inviting them to explore new things. We hate some of the ways that the bureaucracy makes us do. We love connecting with students who are, after all, people with imaginations and stories and desires and purposes of their own. We hate that we have to compartmentalize them and examine them with some dehumanizing psychometric tools. Well, some of us do.

And we wonder, "Who is this education for?" There's a lot of talk about student-centered teaching and schooling. But it looks like an awful lot of that is so much talk and not so much action. The curriculum doesn't budge. The goals are still the same. Teachers want to center their practice on students but are tied into a command and control system that regulates them and their students so much that they are a molding device for an industrial factory school for someone else: the federal or state government, businesses, corporations, or some other entity. Too often anything and anyone but the child themselves.

So what happens when students really do it themselves with the guidance of adults? Do you ever wonder how people can be students without the stricture of school?

Here seems to be one answer.

North Star Slice No. 1 from North Star on Vimeo.

What do you think?