Monday, May 2, 2016

Unseen City: Wonders of the Urban Wildlife

I regularly listen to several podcasts.  One of my favorite podcasts is 99% Invisible.  The most recent episode, Unseen City: Wonders of the Urban Wildlife, broadcasts an interview with author and amateur naturalist Nathaneal Johnson.  In the book, Unseen City, Nathaneal Johnson shares stories of plants and animals which thrive in urban landscapes.  In the podcast, Johnson explains how he became intrigued by animals and plant life that many of us simply overlook on a daily basis. However, as the podcast and book highlights, urban creatures reveal fascinating stories of fortitude and survival.

What resonated during the podcast was a subtle message to take the time to observe the natural world.  We often take for granted the natural world and rarely stop and think about how aspects of the natural world evolved.  To an extent, this is true in education.  Students rarely slow down to observe the natural world or for that matter, the subtle developments within a given day.  As a result, meaningful opportunities to reflect and to dig deeper are lost.  The same is true for educators.  How often do teachers and administrators just simply observe students not necessarily to assess, but instead, to uncover hidden facts about how kids learn, interact with peers and manage the realities of being a student? Educators can take a cue from Johnson and carve out time to observe and to think deeply about what is noticed.  It is important to uncover the hidden/unseen stories and not take for granted certain developments within a school building or classroom.