Our drop off and pick up spot, Moose Crossing, has turned out to be an incredibly rich experience. It began as a simple way to initiate a walk. Today, we typically walk anywhere from 1 1/2 to 3 miles in a given day.
But the experience is vastly more than just a walk. By covering the same, relatively wild ground, day in and day out, we have witnessed the seasons in a magical and unpredictable way. We have encountered heat, cold, rain and snow. We have discovered animal dens, footprints, and bones. We have watched bluebirds, listened to scrub jays, and seen flocks of sandhill cranes. One particular day, we scared up a great horned owl, who circled us three times. Bull snakes, tarantulas, stink bugs, horny toads. One snowy day, one child beheld all the tracks - from coyotes, jackrabbits, mice and rats - and exclaimed, "Wow, I had no idea this many animals lived on the mesa." Moments like that are magic, and aren't easily planned. Just this last week, we saw the road turn into a river.
Moose Crossing represents so well how I wish to approach education. Rarely have I directed the children's attention or made a point of "how much we can learn". I don't turn our observations into lessons. We're just there. Day in, day out. We lead ourselves, and when something unusual happens, we take the time to follow it. We explore. The children have no sense that they are "in school." There's nothing remotely instructional about it at all, we're simply immersed in a field of our own inquiry and excitement.
This is the kind of education I seek for the kids, and I believe math and reading can be approached in a similar vein. How do we immerse ourselves in these subjects, almost as if we don't even realize it? I've been studying this all year. I won't claim to have mastered it, but I will claim that my students never express frustration or boredom. They look forward to school. Their eyes are wide open. They're hungry.