Help wanted: Seeking a classroom teacher, or maybe two or three, maybe a science teacher or maybe a family and consumer science teacher, but maybe something else as well, to partner with the Vegetable Project in curating our gardens and school yards as a class project and an alternative approach to teaching and learning. More than just name plants, we would like to make connections between our plants and all sorts of school curriculum. The sign in the accompanying photo (sorry, not a very good exposure), explaining that garlic reproduces asexually, found in a community garden in Cambridge, Mass., is one example among many possibilities.
We really ought to identify ash trees, threatened by the invasive emerald ash borer, which line Washington Avenue in front of Albany High School. Then we can really talk about evolution and natural selection and ecosystems and how they sometimes are disrupted. The pitch pine trees at Albany High, characteristic of the rare Albany Pine Bush ecosystem, are eminently worth identifying. We might build a display showing four directions, call attention to locations receiving many or few hours of sunshine, explain the purpose of the swale behind the school and encircling our garden at Myers Middle School and much more. We have installed a small garden of plants that are native to this area at Albany High. The significance of these plants surely deserves explaining. We would focus on perennial plants and land features, but might create signs for annuals, as well. After all, that is what we mostly grow.
Qualifications: Curiosity and belief in hands-on project-based learning. Willingness to test the idea that students who explore a smaller number of memorization points in greater depth, such that they’ll take responsibility for teaching others about what they learn, will ultimately do as well or better in mastering the huge vocabulary of the world close at hand.
Compensation: Only the satisfaction of trying something that might be held up as an example of how we can set aside the rote for a few minutes now and then.
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