Arts

The Best Classroom Ever

I’ve been thinking about how to teach earth writing. I think I’ve found the place.

Earth: A Good Place to Get Down to Work

This is the view from Bella Vista towards the Monashees. The city of Vernon is below this old island in post-glacial Lake Penticton.

It’s also a great place for young people. Imagine if you were in Grade 4 and for a week your classroom left its waxed halls and moved out into the world, and then a different Grade 4 class got the chance. Why, you would remember it for your whole life. This classroom exists. It’s in the right of the picture above. Here it is, in better light…

The Allan Brooks Nature Centre at Dusk

Landscape and history and grasslands all in one spot. That’s the commonage, a rather mis-used piece of aboriginal land, in the foreground, and the Vernon Army Base to the left. The site has natural history displays, classroom space, grassland and a 360 degree view over the city and all its volcanic, glacial and post-glacial features. Everything is there in one spot. More info.

I’ve even taught writing there once. We were talking about colour that day. It looked like this:

Colour Writing

That’s the day ten years ago that a group of teachers and I discovered together that when led past primary colours by a man in a purple shirt and a grey jacket they start writing clearly about the land and its social context as one thing, as, of course, it is. Photo: Myriam Dostert

So, you know, kids get bussed up there on field trips now and then, but a week? To make this life the centre of their world, just as it is the largely unacknowledged centre of their city and their land?

The Canadian Army’s Plywood Sculpture Installation and Vernon, B.C.

Seen from the Allan Brooks Nature Centre. Photo: Myriam Dostert

Would using such a perspective not be worth cutting back on the cost of building a new classroom down in the city below, or on the rental of a portable classroom, even? English, science, and social studies curriculums could be almost completely covered up here, with almost automatic integration and the ability to make use of perspective, within nature, rather than outside of it. Well, I think it’s a great idea. So, let’s go there, right!

Oh, dag nab it. 

I think we’ve run into a snag.

It seems that all we can do is look from a distance…

The Allan Brooks Nature Centre

Fast asleep.

Let’s wake up.

Tomorrow: more thoughts on earth writing teaching.

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