Learning is an Experience

Yesterday afternoon my boys were down at the creek behind our house finding tiny new crawdads, and asked if they could keep them. I immediately responded with the Kratt Brother’s mantra “All creatures deserve to live free and in the wild!” My younger son Jonny replied “But this isn’t the wild, it’s the city! The wild is in the jungle!” So we had a teachable moment, explaining that yes, this is the city, but this part of the city, the ecosystem of the Shunganunga Creek, is Wild. The animals that live at the creek, whom we call our neighbors, are not tame, like pets. At the beginning of the season we tried to feed the ducks bread and crackers, but they refused, preferring their insects and perhaps the infant crawdads to our people food. Our creek is also home to a pair of large snapping turtles, some Canadian geese, and last fall we had a rumor of a cougar seen near the creek. He must’ve been really hungry to come this far into urban territory.

I hope that in the near future, when NCLB expires, we can get back to real learning in our school classrooms. Currently schools are teaching children about rainforests, but do not allow children natural experiences in their own neighborhoods. As a publicly educated adult I did not learn about Topeka, Ks, but did learn about the Amazon river basin, the Nile, and other wild parts of the world. Today’s science curriculum seems even more limited, taking a backseat to Reading and Math. Yet here in Topeka we are trying to move forward, despite limited funds from the Brownbackistan for of state government. Westar Energy is partnering with USD 501 to implement hands on science and engineering studies in K-12 public schools. Today’s students need to learn about renewable energy sources, and the public must embrace the fact that non-renewable sources like coal & oil will not provide for the continued increase in use. If we would continue to have Air Conditioning in the summer, we must stop burning coal. It’s counter-productive. Let’s teach our children all the ways we humans are in Nature, instead of wearing blinders and pretending to be separate from our environment. Human comfort should not come at the cost of Life on Earth.


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