MMS News May, 2011

 

Friday May 6th-Green Meadows Farm Trip-Been there, done that!

Monday May 9th- The chicks are here! The chicks are here!

Thursday May 19thAuction! In Hirsch Hall, which is in the basement of Ansche Chesed.  It’ll be a Whatchu’  talkin’ bout Willis 80′s Prom night!

Monday May 30thMemorial Day.  School closed.

On Friday May 6th I attended the field trip to Green Meadows Farm with most of the students and teachers from our school.

From the moment we pulled into the driveway of the farm, tangible waves of little kid energy bounced all around us.  There were school groups of children everywhere.  Once we disembarked our buses, we divided into two groups. Each group was introduced to their farm educator and away we went.

Our students move around the farm: touching piglets, milking cows, petting chicks and ducklings and kits (otherwise known as baby rabbits, but I wanted to appear well educated) and a plethora of other farm animals, I was moved by how our children approached being at this farm.  The farm was not set up as a working farm but as an educational farm.  There were pens of animals all around and hundreds of children moving in groups from one site to another.   I stepped back and took in all the students at the farm. Our students stood out.  En masse, they were quiet, respectful of the farm educator, listened to their parents and teachers and most importantly perhaps, were respectful of the animals.  Our students’ presence in the pens demonstrated thier awareness of the animals as living creatures.  Children moved slowly, touched animals carefully and made an effort to learn something from their experience.  This differed from most of the other student groups at the farm.  The other groups of children’s behavior involved some screaming-albeit most of that in excitement (some in fear), running in the animal pens and careless handling of the animals.  So easy to judge their behavior, but more meaningful to ask, “Why are the kids behaving that way?”   I then began to look for signs as to what the other children’s teachers were doing with them.  Sadly, few helpful lessons from the teachers to their students.  The teachers behavior involved some ignoring of kids, some yelling and some screaming in response to animals.   There was little attention paid to the learning opportunities this event held.

I returned to close observations of our students and noticed the particulars of their behavior that connoted their respect for the world at large.  Their ability to listen to the farm educator, to follow instructions as to “how ” to touch the animals and to ask smart questions about the animals was only the beginning.  When animals pooped or urinated, as farm animals are wont to do, our students stepped away and the wisdom of, “Everything has to poop,” could be heard tittering through our crowd.  From carefully petting the rabbits, making sure to avoid their eyes to noticing the way animals moved all demonstrated our students approach to this field trip.   Our students came to learn and to experience.  Milking the cow probably drew the most dramatic outburst, but even dramatic experiences were  related back to thinking and learning.

In considering the types of reactions I saw in all the students at the farm that day, I gained a new appreciation for our teachers and the work that they do. Their lessons and incidental conversations with kids add up to raising our students’  consciousness of the world.  They teach the importance of admiration for and curiosity for the world around you.  In interacting with adults with respect, to acknowledging the honor that other living creatures are entitled to, the door to learning opens wider.  Our students went on this trip to learn, with an eager mind, not a passive receptacle waiting to be filled up.

This attitude towards learning, looking for learning in each facet of an experience and honor for the lesson, sets our students apart from others.  Our teachers establish this goal each day.  Calling children’s attention to the striations of color in a fly’s wing, in the painting a child just made and expecting children to think about and respond to that observation, creates a thoughtful learner.  This thoughtful learner then moves out into the world as a respectful citizen.