When I went exploring (using AltaVista, of course) for occurrences of the
phrase 'teach by
example' I was surprised to find that the largest group was religious in
orientation and content. My intent is entirely secular, and summed up
in the phrase "...be seen to be a learner...". I'm still searching for
statements that are sincere without being sanctimonious or
clichéed. Here's one from a U. Mass 'nature study'
weblet. It's remarkable how many of the 'tips' can be reworded to apply
as well to college students.
We want to inspire students with visions of the delight and wonder and
challenge of striving to understand the workings of the world. The single
best way to so inspire is by the example of our own lives,
enthusiasm, and work. One of the nicest things about Washington and Lee
is that librarians aren't compartmentalized and shut out of the
possibility to participate in this way.
Tip for Teachers
The most important goal in nature studies is to establish an emotional
link between the students and the natural world, Being curious and
comfortable, in a natural setting, will lead to exploration and a desire
for information. Here are a few tips for environmental educators:
- Put yourself, physically and intellectually, in the learners' position.
- Urban children may have fears about nature. Talk about people having
fears of spiders, worms, snakes or dirt. Pick up a worm. Learn about the
role that spiders have in the ecosystem. Have a sense of humor.
- Teach by example. Show how to handle things gently. Use your senses.
Smell things. Hug a tree. Convey a sense of wonder.
- Let the students' guesses guide your questions. Don't give the right
answer too quickly. Let their own dialogue bring them understanding.
Children are most impressed by their own discoveries.
- Watch and learn from a child's body language. A look of confusion or
hesitancy may be dispelled by some individual attention.
- Find out what the kids already know about the subject.
- Respect everyones' feelings and values. Avoid heavy moralizing. Let the
web of nature speak for itself.
- Involve the children in project decision-making and honor their choices.
- Don't let the rigidity of your lesson plan prevent you from
into a spontaneous activity.
- Remember areas of high interest and augment schoolyard activities with
books/videos from the library and further classroom study.