Unexpected Outcomes !

As A Living Library Garden/Ecology/Multi-Arts/Nutrition/Health Teacher, I plan each lesson with an educational outcome in mind. For instance, last week I wanted the students to learn about different kinds of edible roots; we looked at examples of plants with “taproots,” like carrots, “tubers,” like potatoes, and “bulbs,” like onions and garlic. My goal is that each lesson in A Living Library Garden & Think Park at Juniperos Serra Elementary School has a hands-on component as well. For my root lesson, we started with a discussion and photos, and then planted potatoes and garlic in the garden. After I gave instructions and handed out garden tools, I was immediately met with opposition by three students in the class.

Hands on their hips, disgusted looks on their faces. “I don’t want to get my hands dirty!,” they exclaimed.  “Me too,” another retorted, “I hate when I get dirt on my fingernails!”

Planting Potatoes in the Garden

I showed them my hands, thoroughly covered in dirt. “REAL gardeners” I explained, “get their hands dirty, we will wash out hands after garden class.” Then, I went to get the other students started on planting.   Without much thought I turned around, and to my surprise the three “anti-dirty” students were hands deep in the soil, giggling and playing with a worm they had found. Minutes later I heard them enthusiastically call my name, “Ms. Kristin! Look at my hands,” smiling, they waved their soiled hands in my face, “I am a real gardener too!”

Dirty Hands!

I love how quickly children are willing to change their minds. Adults are so set in their ways, myself included.  We have steadfast opinions about what we like and don’t like, and we are not easily swayed otherwise. I think this trait can be detrimental, as we may miss out on new opportunities and experiences.

I would like to think that in five years, while my A Living Library Garden Students may not remember what a “taproot” or “tuber” is, they will have held on to the sensation of having their hands in the soil. They won’t be afraid to get their hands dirty, and they will dive into the opportunity to spend time amongst plants.

By Kristen DeRose