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Learning Begins

Posted on 05 September 2008

This time of year brings back memories for all of us. We each remember feeling anticipation and terror as we prepared for our first day back to school, the summer air becoming cool and crisp — a harbinger of the days ahead.

We were excited to see friends, teachers, yet panicked at the workload in store. And now we watch our own children, with their heavy backpacks dwarfing their figures, and in shiny new clothes, do the same.

It is important for all of us to look at the children of the community and think of them as inspiration that each of us can strive to be our own entrepreneurs, to discover more about our surroundings and take the learning experience out of the classroom.

This week, we look at how the new greenhouse at the elementary school will take our children to a new realm of experiential learning. This garden will give students a chance to see what can be nurtured from the soil we walk on each day. It will also produce food, in turn, to help the needy of our community — a true lesson in helping others. In addition to this, students have been inspired to make gardens of their own at home, which should encourage parents to continue what is valuable experiential education.

Remember, as we pack our little ones off for their first day back in the classroom, virtually anything can become a life lesson — from walks on the beach and discovering a fish skeleton, to the kitchen where learning how to bake the finest batch of cookies can become a mathematical tutorial with each cup of flour and teaspoon of vanilla.

We also learn this week by looking at home educators in our community who are also embarking on their new curriculums for the school year – some venturing across the world to Egypt where they will study different cultures and visit the pyramids at Giza. These children are learning by doing rather than solely through the textbook. It’s a rich experience they will no doubt carry with them for the rest of their lives.

Our children are required to prepare for state mandated tests and their teachers are obliged to prepare them, but with the start of the new year, let’s ensure that test preparation does not become their sole education, thus robbing them of the opportunity to take in a vastly fuller educational experience.

So as we watch our children take their first steps onto the bus this week, embarking on a new school year of adventures, we, ourselves, should remember the feeling of being young — what it means to look at the world as if we are new to it. And we should never forget that learning doesn’t end when the bell rings and the school day is over. In fact, it is just beginning.


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