September 16, 2010

The Ecology of Education, reuniting Love and Learning

"Teaching at the Edge" by John Elder is something new to me. I wandered into it by following links from visitors at my other sites, and I am drinking it up! Here's a short quote that resonates with my deepest feelings about education, some of my oldest beliefs:
"Love is the deepest science, but it is not quantifiable. Loving attentiveness to one's bioregional community is a discipline, in the sense of being a life's study. It does not, however, depend upon the sort of exclusive vocabulary which those academic categories we call "disciplines" use to define and defend themselves. It has already become a temptation, given the rapid growth of interest in environmental issues, to develop environmental studies or environmental education into separate new departments or programs of their own. But we should resist this impulse. The essence of environmental education is a certain energetic waywardness with regard to compartmentalization and boundaries of all kinds.

One revelation of Stories in the Land and the Watershed Partnerships for me has been that often, the most whole-hearted and integrated teaching occurs in the lower elementary grades. Instead of always having schools and colleges looking up the line to the specialized and professionalistic standards of graduate schools, I would recommend that they also try to emulate the best first grade classes, where music, art, and literature flow directly into the studies of science and mathematics."