Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Community contribution in Education.

Several days ago we discovered some fossils down on the estuary which I happened to mention to our neighbour. I'd forgotten she had an interest in geology and when I was in the garden today she came up the drive clasping a fossil book which she thought would help me to identify the fossil we had found. Sure enough on flicking through the pages I've found an exact picture of the fossil  and was able to put a name to it.
Things like that are always happening with autonomous learning.The same evening, whilst at my parents, my father lent me an old facsimile of a map of our local canal.(The deepest and widest in Britain apparently)  I learnt that the village just up the road. where I lived several years as a teenager ,had  a thriving ship building industry and the slave trade  was rife.  I've already begun to investigate further thanks to the Internet and armed with my new found information I will visit both sites with my son to get a feel for the history at that time.
I've found it makes a great difference if we do some homework before we go. During a concert , in which my daughter and I were participating the orchestra played Carnival of the Animals by Saint Saens. Between each piece of music the programme was interspersed by 'Kipling type' poems about animals. We were able to deduce that each piece of music was meant to imitate an animal and between each piece the poem clarified which animal was about to be represented, but much of the enjoyment was lost as we struggled to concentrate and hear the words and I thought later as I surfed the Internet for further information how much more enjoyable it would have been if I'd read the poems of Ogden Nash beforehand and therefore had a better appreciation of the animals each instrumentalist sought to represent.
So much of what we learn as a family is through the kindness and  help of people within our community. Only yesterday my eldest son experienced the smells and tastes of Indian food with his Explorer scout group.The restaurant owner prepared a beautiful buffet and explained each food as he presented it to the boys, all for free. There are many many experts who will share their interests with us if only we let them.They may not be qualified teachers, or regarded as academics but they have a lifetime of knowledge to share.

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