Monday, 31 March 2014

Smiles on their faces

Many of us figure out early the deep wisdom in the old saying “Actions speak louder than words.” I have just run through the mostly unposed photos full of smiling faces that I took during the recent Northlands Farm and Ranch Show. These smiles adorned the faces of kids holding horse shoes, adults answering questions, everyone passing a piece of fiber from a recently sheared alpaca. 9 classes of Grade 4, 5 and 6 students came to spend a day in the Expo Centre during that agriculturally focused business show as Explorers. We call the program How to be an Explorer of the Farm and Ranch Show and it uses the ideas found in Keri Smith’s How to be an Explorer of the World. Agriculture is a concept whose exploration leads to hundreds of current Alberta Education curriculum connections.

Each class spent part the day interviewing and observing in the learning rich environment.  Scheduled time included a chance to interview a Northlands volunteer who cares about agriculture; either because they grew up on a farm and that experience made them who they are today or because they still have something to do with horses or cows. Jessie spoke about urban agriculture. Alice spoke about some of the things that she did not have growing up; electricity and an inside bathroom. Ed spoke from the heart about the cowboy code. Sonia brought a pail with a nipple at the bottom used to feed orphaned calves. John read a cowboy poem he wrote. Murray explained how to begin to make a relationship with a horse.  Allan offered up the complexities of getting a metal shoe attached to a horse’s hoof. And they all answered question after question.

Brain research is telling us that one of the most transformational aspects of human contact and learning in young brains comes during something metaphorically termed “serve and return”. It is related to the deep neuron forming process that occurs when we make eye contact and speak to each other acknowledging we have heard what is being said by responding.

Over those two days I was privileged to observe the joy of learning - for all involved. The students, teachers, parent volunteers, interviewees and most of the people who crossed paths with the classes partnered in the joy of learning. I could recognize it everywhere. No one needed to say a word (although lots of words were being shared). I saw it – in their smiles.

   “When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”  Rumi
   “To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.”  Mark Twain
   “Education is not filling a bucket but lighting a fire.” William Butler Yeats
   “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” Albert Einstein

This past weekend I read Daniel Coyle’s blog “5 Ways to Nurture Talent” and I have adapted his fifth way (Do: Remember the six-word phrase that matters most - I love to watch you play.) to form my closing thought and cheer to all involved. 

Full of joy-filled gratitude, I say “I LOVE to watch you learn!”

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