Blog Posting #2
This experience has been quite enjoyable and educational. It may be hard to believe that while hanging out at such a beautiful place I could also be doing valuable work towards a future as an environmental educator, I actually believe that I am. I'll lsit the ways:
- Reviewing the basics of ecology. I had learned about the role of populations in creating the structure of ecosystems, the roles of producers, consumers and decomposers in the biological movement of energy and material, but it had been a while. Thanks to the extremely clear lecture and powerpoints of Professor Colon and the clarity of the readings (especially the one from Miller’s textbook) I would definitely feel comfortable teaching this material to a class.
- Practicing a skill: nature journaling. I’ve only done two so far, but I really liked them. It’s a great mix of learning styles and a nice compromise between work that is teacher-centered (there’s a clear thought process behind the structure of the assignment) and student centered (as the student, you pick your own site and what you want to focus on). All in all, it’s a terrific way to experience an ecosystem and generate ideas for field study. Which leads me to…
- Getting experience in the construction of field studies and experiments. This has probably been the best thing so far. I don’t think I’ve done anything like this since 8th grade. It's been very thought-provoking and, again, I would now feel comfortable leading students through an experience like this. It's also a nice reminder of how inexact the basis of our knowledge really is. Facts aren't there unless we go and find them, conclusions can be very sloppy unless we hold ourselves to high standards. It’s up to us in each generation to remember how fragile understanding is and to reestablish knowledge for ourselves, not to mention to pass it on to the next generation. I do think I should include some of this kind of work in the Environmental History and Policy class I’m planning.
- A nice period of focus on environmental policy in today’s class with the it’s viewing of Inconvenient Truth. I will definitely use that film as the basis for a unit in the class, both because of what it does so well (convince the audience that global climate change is an enormous problem) and because of what it doesn’t do (provide much a policy blueprint). It would be both the basis of a good test on the film's content and the springboard for a powerful debate on what to do about the problem.
- Developing contacts to pursue the related issues of constructing the environmental policy course, getting help with the advising of the garden club, developing a stronger model of “green schooling” for Poly to pursue and, in general, furthering my own professional development.
All in all, it’s been a pretty fruitful way for me to spend my time.