Yesterday was a great day! Not only is my new boiler continuing along on it’s way toward installation, but I had the amazing opportunity to go into my local primary school and plant pumpkin and pea seeds with some lovely P2 (6 and 7 year-olds) pupils. I did a bit of volunteering at my mother’s friend’s first grade class when I was an undergraduate student in California, so I had a small window into the world that is early childhood education about 15 years ago. And let me tell you–teachers have one heck of a hard job, and they should be highly valued!! Today, I had flashbacks to this prior experience, and I remembered how fun it is to get up in front of a bunch of eager children and teach! If only the adults in the many many meetings, workshops and conferences I have since organised and run had half of the enthusiasm of these kids. They were all eager to participate and learn! Wow, it was really invigorating actually. I’m not going to go back to school and train as a teacher or anything, but I will make a mid-year resolution to help out more in the school. It’s rewarding and fun. I encourage everyone to get out and help out in local schools! Either in the classroom, office or grounds, there’s always something to be done! My amazing father has been volunteering at my old elementary school ever since he retired in the 1990’s, so I guess I have had the benefit of a very good role model here! Thanks Dad, I love you!
OK, I am digressing from the Great Energy Race task at hand! The point of me going into the classroom today (aside from my pure enjoyment) was to plant some seeds. But while I wanted to physically plant some pumpkin and pea seeds into soil with these children, I also wanted to plant some metaphorical seeds for energy conservation. And I really hope that I did that too! We started out with me asking the students what they can do to reduce their energy use. Most of them said that they should spend less time on computers, video games or tablets. Since my son is well steeped in energy saving at the moment, he mentioned turning out the lights when you are not in the room (that’s my boy!!), and one kid even said that by eating more fruits and vegetables and less junk food we can use less energy! That segued perfectly into our activity at hand, which was planting seeds for edible plants that they can hopefully get the opportunity to hand-pick and enjoy later in the summer and autumn.
It was really quite interesting to see how the kids reacted to the planting instructions. I was struck by one girl in particular, who was obviously a pro at planting seeds, because of the care she took into patting down the soil and getting the right amount of soil in her pot before putting in her seeds. It was honestly better than I would have done! When I complemented her on her skill, she said that she had lots of practice before with her mom. Yeah! Most kids however looked like they were doing this for the first, maybe second, time in their lives. But that was nice too, as someone at some point in their lives needs to teach them how to plant a seed! And the sooner the better. My mother and I used to do lots of vegetable planting when I was a kid, and I am now SO thankful that I gained an appreciation of soil, plants and gardening at an early age. Pulling weeds for what seemed like hours on end as a kid for my weekly chore is less rosy in my memory, however, but almost equally as educational. And yes, Mom, I love you too!!
After the planting experience, we talked about how the fruit and vegetables we eat arrive on our plates. Lots of kids said that their food came from the shops. And when I asked how the food came to the shops, and where it might have come from, and how these modes of transportation are powered, they started to understand the concept of food-miles. We also had a conversation about when plants naturally ripen here in the UK, so that perhaps eating soft berries from South America in the winter wasn’t the best idea, when you can wait and eat them in the summer here. And that perhaps apples are a better fresh fruit choice in the winter.
But time was limited, as were the children’s’ attention spans! Again, primary school teachers are so amazing to have the energy and ability to cope with a class full of kids whose minds are all going in 25 different directions at once! So, after a very heartfelt “thank you” from the kids that almost made me cry, I left. Yes, it was a good day, and I really hope that the kids will remember it and take on board a bit of our conversation to try to reduce their energy use!
I need to also give a very special THANK YOU to B&Q, whose very generous gift card towards my home energy savings efforts helped pay for this planting experience for these children!