By Elena Baugh
In a classroom, a teacher often utilizes multiple modalities to teach a subject.
“There may be evidence that indicates that there are some ways to teach some subjects that are just better than others, despite the learning styles of individuals…
If you’re thinking about teaching sculpture, I’m not sure that long tracts of verbal descriptions of statues or of sculptures would be a particularly effective way for individuals to learn about works of art. Naturally, these are physical objects and you need to take a look at them, you might even need to handle them.” (Cerbin, 2011, 7:45-8:30)
Naturally a teacher instructing on the water cycle could provide a truly memorable experience by offering a trip to the water processing plant. Or a lesson on recycling and the impact of garbage on the earth could give an eye-opening perspective with a field trip to a recycling plant.
In the last ten years, our school district has lost the entire agricultural education program.
In this program, children were given hands-on experience getting their hands dirty in the great outdoors. Learning about the mountains, buttes, trees, grasses, clouds, and sky.
Reading about things in the environment is interesting but having a teacher point it out while looking a red-breasted robin’s nest becomes a memory to be recalled when seeing a robin’s nest over and over again.
The life cycle of birds, mammals, insects, and plants turn into reality when there is something to hold in a hand and watch it move.
This program included an ecosystem section. With a special focus on how human behavior can impact ecosystems to live sustainably, specifically trash, recycling, and water.
Third graders would then take a field trip to the water treatment plant to see all the things they learned in action.
In our family, my oldest child had field trips and extra science investigation in chick candling, fossil and sound investigation in addition to field trips to the recycling plant, Benton Lake and agriculture days at the Fair. Each of these activities correlated with the lesson or subject they were studying at the time.
I asked my daughter about these experiences. She is 11 years old and responded with a surprising amount of depth.
“It was more interactive rather than just watching something or reading about it in a book. There was more interaction and more hands-on activities. I think I learned more about these subjects because it was real to me.”
My second child had half of these experiences.
My third child had none of these enriching opportunities.
As a parent, I value the efforts of our teachers and the school district. The more I get involved, the more I realize that we are all just trying to get by.
When I am out on the community at my children’s activities I talk with those around me. We discuss the weather, children, parenting strategies and schools. Since we are in a bond year, I gently bring up the subject.
The answers I receive are enlightening. By and large, the cons involve paying more taxes when so many in our community are just barely scraping by.
Too many years of this is wearing on individuals and taxes the emotions in our community. How can the school district ask for more when so many are struggling to make ends meet?
Studies have shown that children in these very families are the ones who directly benefit from the extra programs that have been cut.
One of our communities’ greatest strengths is that we take care of each other. Time and time again, I have seen how the people of Great Falls bend over backward to help someone who is down and out. This time it is our children who are down and out.
They are losing programs, opportunities, teachers, raising classroom sizes, non-functioning projectors, computers, programs, books.
The expectations for our teachers are going up while the support for these amazing teachers is going down.
Great Falls, the time has come to take care of our own.
To support our children and our teachers. Re-evaluate what a bond will actually cost and whether or not your family can support our children, teachers, and schools.