The confluence of lambs being born at the Avon Grove Charter School, a coyote sighting at Greenwood Elementary School and a natural food project at Assumption BVM School just begs for comment.
Especially the coyote and the sheep.
The Brothers Grimm would have a ball with it: Coyotes stalking sheep; baby lambs escaping the threat by outsmarting them; coyotes dressing up as second graders and trying to enter the three-legged race at the Greenwood field day; wolves in principals’ clothing; lamb chops with fresh basil.
It staggers the Scandinavian imagination.
But seriously. . . . . .
We were especially pleased about the news of lambs at the charter school. Likewise, witnessing the visit by a couple of ageing hippies who showed kids how to grow their own salads at BVM, warmed our hearts.
But the response by school officials to the coyote scare, not so much.
First the coyote:
According to game officials, there are coyotes in every county in Pennsylvania. Our friends, the residents of Franklin Township, say the woods around the White Clay Creek are full of them. And if you ask at Buck’s Hunting in Avondale, they’ll tell you they’ve all seen coyotes.
Even in the big cities, coyotes roam around and eat garbage, rodents and people’s cats. One thing they don’t eat, however – or even care for – is people. They don’t like to be around people, they hate a lot of human noise, and they don’t like crowds at all.
That’s why it was puzzling that Kennett School District officials, when they heard that someone could have possibly seen a coyote on school property during the weekend, chose to herd the kids inside a couple days later during some of the nicest weather of the year, and keep them inside for another couple.
The chances of a coyote returning to the school grounds on a day when students were running around, shouting and climbing jungle gyms are next to nil. And if they feared the unlikely worst, the school could have called a local hunter or maybe Kennett Square Police Chief Edward Zunino (who is quite skilled with a gun) to come and unobtrusively patrol the perimeter of the playground while the kids were having recess or a field day.
But enough of that.
Here are some really sound educational practices with the lambs and the carrots:
At Avon Grove Charter School, the students grow crops, help with the sheep and goats, breed fish, conduct science experiments on the playground and grow produce. They make boxes to attract bats, and the last we heard, there wasn’t any hysteria about the fear of rabies.
They spend a lot of time outside, and they smile a lot.
Contrary to what some educators would tell you, students learn by doing things much better than they do sitting at desks hearing about it.
To those kids (or educators) who are preoccupied with their electronic devices – using them as a source of information – let the word go out that they will never learn to birth a lamb, get their shoes dirty or make a salad from the garden by looking at a screen.
That brings us to the garden food project at Assumption BVM.
On another nice day last week, the fourth graders were outside digging in the dirt and pulling out carrots. They tasted lettuce and herbs straight from the earth and learned how to make a nice dressing to rev up the flavor.
Quite possibly, they will never be asked on a standardized test how sheep get sheared, how long it takes tilapia eggs to hatch or how you can tell when a carrot is ready to pick.
But these kids involved in solid outdoor education have learned the joy of connecting with the earth, that they are part of it and that they can take part in its life.
If that isn’t useful information, we don’t know what is.
Congratulations to the schools that get them outside and let them learn by embracing Mother Earth. In the long run, that’s what life is about.