Thursday, November 08, 2007

The weather here in Arkansas has been perfect all week. All the Clear Spring High School students have been studying Ornithology, so while nearly every other teacher in Arkansas has been contending with the question, "Can't we please go outside?" ...and having to say no, the Ornithology class has been outside nearly every day... except today. This afternoon they came to the wood shop and we made 11 bird feeders of 3 different types... a large window feeder for their classroom window, six small seed feeders to hang on trees around the campus and 4 suet feeders to attract woodpeckers. I was much too busy directing and cutting stock to take any photos, but we had a great time. And if you can't be in the woods on such a beautiful day, being in the wood shop is the next best thing.

According to Comenius, children should learn "as much as possible, not from books, but from the great book of nature, from heaven and earth, from oaks and beeches." While I may not know enough about heaven to make clear use of it in education, I think you may know how I feel about oaks and beeches and the educational value of each and every kind of tree.

When the students arrived for class, I had been busy cutting western cedar for bird feeder parts. I asked what they smelled. Pete, the science teacher said, Sassafras. Some said bananas. Jina, our exchange student from Japan said it "smells like a house being built." Western cedar is used for making siding and cedar shakes, even in Japan, and for me, too, it smells like a "house being built."

According to Comenius, the order of education should be as follows: first the senses, then the memory, then the intellect, and then the critical faculty. He said: "The child perceives through the senses; everything in the intellect must come through the senses." So, think about this when you next spend time in a classroom. Are there interesting smells to engage the intellect? Come to our wood shop and check us out. Your senses will be engaged in learning.

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