Day 2: World As Teacher

Day 2: World As Teacher

Day 2: Crossing Utah and Colorado

There will be a learning lesson here, but first please permit me a Sabbath reflection.  Sunrise, five miles west of Salina, open road but for a few early morning long-haul truckers, bottom land rich in ripe alfalfa bounded by rising buttes of banded red and white, Neil Young “Helpless” the first song of the day.  It will buckle your knees, driving or not. This is my church.  God bless all of us.

It is high summer here, yellow flowers trace the highway, the stubby pines dark dots of green, and even the sage is greener than grey. Quaking aspen choke every low draw and creek.  Over 100 million years these mountains raised their deep-sea sediments, bruised upwards by forces as far away as Mexico and the Pacific Rim.  Over ten thousand years this must have been Eden for Native Americans, providing bounty and wealth in the summer and hidden, deep valleys for protection from brutal winters.  Then came fur fever, Manifest Destiny, and small pox and now it is another Eden, small ranchers holding tight to the bottom land when just over that next ridge is surely God’s country.  By afternoon I had crossed the continental divide, and in the Colorado Rockies the aspens are spilling gold down the mountainsides, as the high country braces in mid-Autumn for winter’s approach.

It is a day like this that makes me want to smash every digital device in school and home and scream “it is all right here!”   But that is rash and intemperate; each tool has its place.  But I tell you what: if I had seen a family van driving alongside of me today with kids glued to a Disney flick on the in-car DVD player, it would have been a knife to my heart and soul.

Give me students and time to walk down just five miles of these hills, plunging down through the history of the earth, asking why that plant grows there and how water and soil and bugs and air all create high summer in one range and not in another.  Of course these five miles are a metaphor, and we want each student to find their own “five miles of Rockies heaven” that stirs some question or passion in them.  It might be a community service center, a lab, a volleyball court, a musical score, a train station…we don’t care.  But I know this: if any student takes the time to deeply understand just “five miles” of their choosing, the “how” and “why” and “what if” of just those five miles, they are set for life and we have done our jobs.

How to start: any time I have the honor of being with students, I try to find a time to turn them loose in some slightly unfamiliar setting…a forest or creek bed, an airport or dirt road, ask them to go off alone for a few minutes and find something that is new to them, some question to which they don’t know the answer, something they care about.  Report it back to the group or note it in a journal.  That is the start.

Back in the day we had a saying, induced I am sure by certain illegal substances: “This is your movie, man!”  Well, it is a good saying.  If we make the movie for our students, it will always be our movie, not theirs.  We have to give them a place and time to create their own movie.  I added a scene to mine this morning, thanks to a God who is kind enough to wake me for the sunrise, and splash Her bounty for me to see down this winding road.

My work starts tomorrow at Colorado Academy!

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By | 2012-09-10T00:04:06+00:00 September 10th, 2012|Education Innovation Journey of Learning|5 Comments

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  1. […] Day 2: World As Teacher […]

  2. […] The Learning Pond, “Day 2: World As Teacher” “It is a day like this that makes me want to smash every digital device in school and home and scream “it is all right here!” But that is rash and intemperate: each tool has its place. But I tell you what: if I had seen a family van driving alongside me today with kids glued to a Disney flick on the in-car DVD player, it would have been a knife to my heart and soul. Give me students and time to walk down just five miles of these hills, plunging down through the history of the earth, ask why that plant grows there and how water and soil and bungs and air all create high summer in one range and not in another.” […]

    • glichtman September 17, 2012 at 11:22 am - Reply

      Thanks for calling this section out in your blog. I was a special morning, as are so many if we stop and see them. Hope you will continue to follow the journey.

  3. Roger September 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    I became aware via twitter of your journey just the other day, so I wanted to go back and start reading from the start of your trip. This blog post hits home for me in so many ways. You mention the “honor of being with your students” — I am surrounded at my school with faculty who have seemed to have forgotten that it is an honor to be with their students. I am excited to read more about the schools that you’ve visited and will visit and will be sharing and discussing this blog with my faculty. Maybe I can help them remember a little bit about why they teach. Thank you for sharing!

    • glichtman September 20, 2012 at 10:46 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Roger. What better way to get faculty fired up than to connect with colleagues somewhere else who are going through the same things but who are excited about something they are working on. Hope some of your team will follow along and find inspiration, and if there is anything I can do, let me know. Would be happy to Skype in to your team sometime if that would help you out. You can always reach me at glichtman@francisparker.org

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