An Icy Landscape as a Classroom
Ohanian Comment: Maybe it's because I live not far from the Northeast Kingdom and after the weatherman just announced "It's a bit on the cool side--4 degrees," he spent half the report in a rapture over the bright sunshine, but I'd say the curriculum described below is a much better model than anything coming out of the U. S. Department of Education.
The curriculum places students in the world, and in teaching them all the important things about a small area, it, of course, crosses the curriculum and links to the larger world.
Remember Henry David Thoreau, who traveled at lot--in Concord? Don't miss the throwaway line about multiple types of expertise. That is what our public schools should be about: multiple types of expertise, not one cookie-cutter model cranked out by the standardized test makers.
by Stacy I. Teicher
WOLCOTT, VT. -- It's another subzero day in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, and eight students are cheerfully wading into waist-deep snow to ... count trees.
Soon the hair framing their faces is crisp with frost. But there's a method to this madness - they'll be comparing tree species in plots at a higher elevation. And doing this hands-on science - even if it is occasionally hand-numbing - is the reason they're here.
For people interested in arctic climates and cultures, the Center for Northern Studies in Wolcott, Vt., offers a rare opportunity. Because of the area's glacial history and current climate, some geological features and plant and animal adaptations resemble those in places much farther north, such as Alaska. And few universities in the United States offer the interdisciplinary approach the center is known for.
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Stacy I. Teicher
Christian Science Monitor
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