Reflections from Past Scholars
Wondering how Reenchanting Nature: Humanities Perspectives might enrich your teaching? Check out these reflections published by Scholars of our 2017 Seminar:
- Affection for Place: Re-Enchanting the Classroom, by Elizabeth Schibuk (Massachusetts)
- Gamifying Learning Leaves a Lasting Impression, by Sam Northern (Kentucky)
- Connecting Students to the Beauty of Nature, by Christina Torres (Hawaii)
And these innovative assignments developed 2017 Scholars
From Joanna Batt, American History Teacher, Buffalo, NY:
Superfund Projection Project
Superfund sites are sites that have become so polluted, so wretched in their menace to the environment (think former mines, nuclear power plants, etc.) that the government has taken them over in hopes to make them better. 53 million of us live within three miles of these toxic places. But the reality is, due to lack of funds and because (again and again) our natural world isn’t the priority it should be, these lands just sit and often get worse. We discussed, as an example of one of the worst, the infamous Berkeley Pit in Butte, Montana that I visited this summer. Unfortunately, there are also many in New York state, at least 87. Yikes. Choose a local one and pretend you are presenting your plan to change it to the EPA (Environmental Protective Agency) to secure the green light. Plan and think and show and describe how you would change this for the better, realistically. What clean up action would you take, and how? How would you raise money, get people in the community to care? How would this serve the natural space and surrounding area (Jobs? Gardens? Places for animals to safely roam? Etc.). If you need inspiration, look at ones that architects and engineers and urban planners have changed in recent years for the better like Prickly Pear Land Trust in Montana, that used to be a big pile of slag and now has wetlands, nature trails and someday breweries. It can be done!
From Mikela Thrasher, Art Teacher, Baltimore, MD:
Re-Enchanting Nature shaped the ways I understood how personal narrative and storytelling connects us to the deeper meaning of places. As an artist-educator, I anticipated the drastic change of environment from an urban, inner-city school to "Big Sky" Montana would impact both my art and teaching practices. I have since focused on the visual language of symbol and metaphor with my students. Fifth graders identified symbolic traits of a spirit animal and used realistic or imaginative color to create mono-prints that placed their animal in a natural environment. Eighth graders created metaphorical landscape collages to represent a natural element: fire, earth, water, or air. They translated their collages into painting, learning about abstraction, color mixing, and developing perceptual awareness. I continue to focus my artwork on the abstraction of place, creating photographs that are contextualized through sequencing, but devoid of the human figure or symbols that reference or identify location.
Artwork below courtesy of Mikela Thrasher