Saturday, May 22, 2010

The value of a garden to a school

I firmly believe that a garden can be a revolutionary learning tool for a school. When combined with discovery-based, inquiry focused lessons children will learn how to think- not just to regurgitate the "facts' you tell them. A garden focuses children in a wonderful way- they learn how to observe, create and analyze in an organic and unthreatening setting. I have been in the garden at PES when children have observed butterflies sipping nectar, have come face to face with a bee and learned how to deal with fear, and held a strawberry plant with a big fat ball of mud beneath it and asked with reverance- "can I hold that." They have discovered the difference between tomatoes and strawberries (really!) and that they can plant a bulb and it will come up in the spring. These(many) children are starved for someone to connect them to the natural world. It can be the canvas for many lessons from science to history to English language to math. The garden teaches them about the wonders of our world in our backyard, not just that wonders are "out there" "somewhere else" and that we have no control over them. In fact the lessons of the garden are that we can transform our world and make it a better place. From creating habitat for birds, catching glimpses of the resident rabbi,t or growing food for the local soup kitchen the children become active agents in solving national and international problems - this is learning beyond price..