Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The World is Our Classroom

On Tuesday we visited the Cabrillo Aquarium with our home school/nature study group.
I love the Cabrillo Aquarium. The kids and I have visited it many times. While its size is small (my boys call it The Little Aquarium) compared to the large Aquarium of the Pacific, it makes up for it with lots of interesting exhibits, activities and displays. And while we liked seeing the moon jellies, the sharks, sitting on a whale tail and being starfish,
I felt that something was lacking.
Let me explain.

The aquarium has a touch tank where you can touch star fish, sea anemones and other inhabitants of tide pools.
But just a short walk away is the ocean and the Pt. Fermin tide pools. Real tide pools.
Out there is wide open space, no pushing or shoving to secure a space at the touch tank.
Out there is the sound of waves, the call of birds and the roar of wind. Not the voice on the mike saying, "don't touch that."
Out there are pools to jump over and rocks to climb.
Out there is the joy of discovery.
Out there are crabs to be found--not nearly as big as the lobster in a tank, but this is somehow more exciting. We found him! We can touch him, watch him move, and scuttle away to his home under a rock.
We can admire the shell of a sea urchin.
Show our friends the sea slug we found and hold it up for them to admire and touch.

We can find every sea anemone in the place and rejoice over each one.

We can admire long views
and soaring birds.
And best of all, we can experience it all together.
When I think of the gifts I want to give to my children, this is one of them:
learning doesn't take place just in a room, in a book or with paper and pen. Learning takes place everywhere we are. We don't stop learning when we close our books or walk out the door.
We will never stop learning, because the world is our classroom.
Please don't misinterpret this post to mean that I will now shun all museums, zoos and aquariums. Quite the contrary, I love those places and will continue to make them a part of our life. However, I would never want to have more of those experiences and less of these.

This was kind of an epiphany moment for me. Probably because there was such a distinct difference between the two experiences and they happened right after one another.
And I suppose the reaction was so strong because this idea is something I've always thought, but seeing it happen before my very eyes was so affirming.

This isn't the easiest of educational paths, and there is a lot more questioning and doubting than cheerleading and support. But this day all the cheerleading I needed came from my heart while watching them engage in the very kind of learning I hope will capture them, heart, soul and mind. The kind of learning that will last a lifetime.

Whatever path you are on, I hope you too, will remember, the world is your classroom. Now get out there and learn something!
Love from,

1 comment:

j e n n i f e r said...

oh, yes. i will be linking to this post. i love it. thanks for sharing so beautifully. we did chat about this on our way down the boardwalk! and it was such a distinct difference. i can't wait to go back there.