To the editor:
I guess the seriousness of the research began with a master’s thesis at Lehman College focused on the early childhood population. It was about developing nurturing behavior in young children by introducing plants and flowers.
We define attributes of nurturing behavior, which would lead, I believe, to a more peaceful world. It teaches young people how to communicate with others as they learn to nurture plants, and each other.
Of course, these attributes that are developed in elementary and middle school become what we would now call stewardship of the Earth. It takes into account learning ecology, the environment, and many walks to the park studying parts of a tree, parts of a plant, parts of a flower, and much more.
What I discovered along the way is that a classroom must reach farther than a building. After watching my children and myself work in the children’s garden at the New York Botanical Garden, and then my grandchildren enjoying those many and varied activities, I knew what others had known before me — that nature and nurture go together.
I discovered that not only do nature and nurture go together in learning, nature is a metaphor for human growth.
So that getting down and dirty — planting and cooking, doing holiday and crafts projects that children have done throughout the years — were on the right education track.
All the activities that are incorporated into a curriculum were only lacking the label of STEM subjects, or the non-fictional aspects of a core curriculum.
I found we couldn’t rely on only new textbooks every year because there is so much information to discover that, as the children grow from the basic science of the plant and animal world into discovering the resources in periodicals and science journals, they would understand the real meaning of climate change or ocean pollution, and find out what we and other countries do for good and bad to each other, or to the Earth.
This is learning the real hard facts and truths about their world so they will become engaged, and want to find solutions to our problems.
Studying these subjects is not only a widening of empowerment and engagement for students, but artistically and spiritually engaging, which lasts a lifetime, and for future generations.
Problems in schools? Violence and bullying (that’s a big one). Little parent involvement. Not enough classroom space. Materials are expensive. Composting is not a problem. Recycling can be a problem.
Children in their viewing time see good values and morality turned upside down. We haven’t even discussed the cultural aspects of this kind of study. With all our differences when it comes to subjects like these, we are more on equal footing than we are not.
Why are pizza and tacos and sushi shared so widely? We all like to grow into new experiences and new cultures.