Monday, September 12, 2011

Source of Inspiration

I would suggest reading Nicholas Kristof's  We're Rich (In Nature) op-ed piece in the Sunday Times.  Politics aside, Kristof poignantly expresses the collective need to cherish our national parks, national forests and other public lands.  Simply put all of us need to get outside more and experience "America’s most valuable assets."

Kristof shares a hike he took with his family over the summer in central Oregon.

After one 20-mile day in August of trudging mostly upward, sometimes struggling over huge snowfields, we arrived exhausted at Thielsen Creek in central Oregon. The majesty of the scene — snow-clad Mount Thielsen soaring overhead, the creek burbling below us, no one within miles — took our breath away.

I'm sure most of us have been touched in a way described by Kristof.  I am always moved by sunset over Center Pond, a lake in the small town of Becket, Massachusetts where I spent many summers.  Even though I have seen the sun set hundreds of times over Center Pond, I always stop to admire the scene of the sun setting over the hill across the lake.  I have been able to enjoy this sunset with friends, family and at times, lost in solitary reflection. 

There is a message in Kristof's piece for educators as well.  We need to get kids out of the classroom.  Inspiration can be found outside of school buildings.  Where I work, several educators are flooding the Board with field trip forms or are taking walking tours of the surrounding neighborhood.  There is also a plan being developed to introduce courses through walking tours.  Battery City is being mapped as a vehicle to introduce students to American History and our American Studies program.

It's about the experience.  It's about engaging with something that is real and being able to make connections with personal interests and passions.  It's also about finding inspiration in the world around us.  

As always your thoughts and comments are appreciated.  Additionally, what are other educators doing to get kids out of the building?

*Image courtesy Ben Kelly